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Can I Go To Trial While I Am Handcuffed?

Simply because someone is in jail awaiting his or her trial does not mean that they waive some fundamental rights to a fair trial. Yesterday, we addressed the issue of whether a defendant can be tried in jail clothing and discovered that to do so would violate a person's right to a fair trial.

The same principle is true for a defendant being placed in handcuffs during trial As a general rule, a defendant should not be in handcuffs during the trial or even brought into the courtroom handcuffed in front of the jury. The United States Supreme Court and Texas courts have held that "the routine use of shackles in the presence of juries compromises the courtroom's formal dignity, which includes the respectful treatment of defendants . . . ."

As with most areas of the law, there is an exception to every rule. If the defendant has made threates to court staff or has demonstated a propensity to escape, then a court might be justified in handcuffing the defendant.

If you have been charged with theft or a violent crime, contact a Plano criminal defense lawyer today.