The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

Speedy and Public Trial, Impartial Jury, and Being Informed of the Accusation

The Decline of Jury Trials

Whereas many rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights have more expansive meanings today than they did when they were adopted, the applicability of the 6th Amendment guarantee of a jury trial has considerably contracted over time. Today, many defendants are urged to waive their right to a jury trial in favor of a trial by the court alone. And the vast majority of criminal cases never go to trial at all; instead, defendants are urged to plea bargain and confess their guilt to a lesser charge. Jury trials have become an expensive and onerous burden on the state, and prosecutors will often seek to avoid one if possible. In theory, all suspects are still protected by this 6th Amendment right. In practice, the jury trial has increasingly fallen into disuse.