Under the federal constitution everyone charged with a crime where their liberty is at stake (possibility of jail or prison) is entitled to a lawyer and a jury trial. Class C misdemeanors (for example: speeding, public intoxication, disorderly conduct) are not included in this because the judge can only assess a fine. In Texas, someone charged with a class C misdemeanor does not have a right to a court-appointed attorney, but Texas does allow for jury trials on class C misdemeanors. More than half of the other states do not allow someone to request a jury trial for these minor offenses – any trial would be heard only by a judge.
The question this week: Should Texas get rid of jury trials for class C misdemeanors? Trials to the judge save time and money, but are citizens rights at stake? Is it worth your time as a citizen to sit as a juror on one of these cases just in case you might want to have a jury trial on a class C misdemeanor one day?
1. Your answer needs to be no less than 300 words and no more than 400 words.