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Protester arrested at air force base not granted jury trial

A federal judge has denied an individual arrested for taking part in a protest the right to a jury trial.  The protest took place at Beale Air Force Base in California and concerned the use of drones.  Per a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the federal judge ruled that there was no right to a jury trial if the penalty did not exceed six months imprisonment.  The judge apparently added that he would not grant a jury trial even if circumstances proved it would have been permissible.

The individual charged was a 66-year-old woman.  She was charged by federal prosecutors with a misdemeanor for "entering a military installation for a purpose prohibited by law or lawful regulation."  She was one of four individuals arrested this past November for stepping across a white line marking the base's border.

Prosecuting attorneys reportedly assured the judge that they would not seek a prison term if the woman was found guilty. Because of this the judge did not feel a "compelling reason" to treat this matter different from other petty offenses. However, a defendant attorney involved in the matter stated that matters had been tried outside of the Eastern District of California where jury trials were granted to protesters in circumstances where the charges were deemed petty.

No two criminal matters are exactly the same. What may be considered a minor offense by prosecutors or even a judge may still seem worth fighting for the person charged. Criminal defense attorneys often represent individuals accused of a variety of criminal offenses by focusing in upon the unique set of facts for each matter.

Source: The Modesto Bee, "Judge denies jury trial to Beale protester," Denny Walsh, April 1, 2014

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