How is the Venue Selected in a Criminal Trial?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

Criminal Defendant’s Request for Change of Venue to Ensure Fair Trials in the New Mexico Court System

inside of a courtroomNumerous terms are tossed about during a criminal case – one you might hear is that of “venue.” When your criminal case is scheduled for trial, a venue is selected. The venue can be a specific city court, county court, or dedicated state court. Typically, the court is dedicated to your type of case. While in a civil case, your defense lawyer has the discretion to pick the venue, a criminal trial does not provide the defendant with this discretion.

What is a Venue?

A venue is a location for your trial. For a criminal case, the district or county where the crime was committed is where your case is heard. Sometimes, it can involve a district outside of your home, especially if you commit a crime in another city, county, or state.

The prosecution can agree to a different venue if your defense attorney has a good reason for requesting such. While often confused for one another, the term “venue” is different from “jurisdiction.” Instead, jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority to charge a defendant with a crime. Typically, the jurisdiction refers to the state or county, while the venue is usually in the county where the crime occurred.

Can I Request a Change in Venue?

As a defendant, you can request that your criminal trial moves to another county, but only if you can prove that there is a reasonable suspicion that you would not receive a fair trial in the current county. As a criminal defendant, you have the right to a fair hearing by an impartial jury consisting of your peers. However, you do not have the right to choose your venue. Some circumstances allow you to request a change in venue, such as juror impartiality. In this case, your criminal defense attorney would file a motion to move the venue and have it take place elsewhere.

Proving Grounds for a Change

To receive a change in venue, you must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Excessive pretrial publicity that prevents you from receiving juror impartiality.
  • Prosecution and defense have not found enough suitable jurors in that venue.
  • The county prosecuting the case lacks jurisdiction to try it in their county.
  • The victim of the case is located elsewhere, and the courts approve relocating closer to him or her.
  • The judge is prejudiced against the defendant.
  • The jury pool is predisposed for or against the death penalty – this is applicable in capital cases.

You Must Act Quickly on a Request for Change – Contact an Attorney

You are limited as to how much time you have to apply for a change in venue. Once your trial officially starts, you cannot request a change just because you feel that you are not going to get a fair trial. Waiting too long forfeits your right to apply for venue alterations, so speak with a criminal defense lawyer immediately at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices.

We not only can help you with your criminal trial, but we will ensure that you receive a fair trial – even if that means switching venues. Call us now for a free case evaluation at 505-375-4671 or request your free evaluation online.