A Synopsis in 50 Words or Less: Waiving a defendant's attendance at trial must be done by agreement, and the prosecutor, unless inexperienced, may reject. However, one should attempt, especially if the defendant's identification is a concern or the defendant's look signals gang affiliation, drug addiction, etc.
In order for a court to dismiss a criminal charge against a defendant, the defendant must waive his or her right to attend trial. This waiver can be made by failing to appear for trial or by otherwise communicating to the court that the defendant does not want to attend his or her trial. If the defendant fails to appear for trial, the court will issue a warrant for his or her arrest. If the defendant communicates to the court in some other way that he or she does not want to attend trial, the court will enter an appearance of counsel on behalf of the defendant and proceed with the hearing without the defendant.
The decision to waive a defendant's right to attend trial must be made by the defendant or his or her attorney. If the defendant wishes to attend trial but his or her attorney decides not to allow him or her to do so, then the defendant has been denied his or her right to counsel. It is important to note that this denial of rights occurs only if the defendant wants to attend trial. If the defendant does not want to attend trial, his or her attorney can make decisions regarding trial strategy that would prevent the defendant from attending.
WITNESS FOR THE VICTIM
There are certain exceptions to the rule that criminal trials must be open to the public. Under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, anybody accused of a criminal act has the right to a public trial. Defendants can occasionally surrender their right to a public trial, but they cannot force a private trial. In order for a court to hold a hearing outside of public view, one of three things must happen: (1) the defendant waives his or her right to a public trial; (2) the government requests a hearing on confidential matters; or (3) the court decides it is necessary under the circumstances.
In federal courts, hearings and other proceedings involving classified information are usually held in chambers or in a room designated as a courtroom but which is used only for such proceedings. The media are generally excluded from these hearings but may be allowed in under certain conditions. Trial by jury is also a right afforded by the Sixth Amendment. However, this right can be waived by the defendant with approval of the court. In some jurisdictions, this waiver must be written, while in others oral consent will do. Judges can also waive the right to a jury trial if they believe it is in the best interest of justice to do so. Jury waivers should be done carefully, as once a jury has been empaneled, it is difficult to get them to withdraw themselves.
In England, Wales and most Commonwealth countries, including Canada, there is no right to a public trial.
With a few exceptions, all victims' rights legislation grant victims the opportunity to attend the trial procedures (see the witness exception below). Victims may also attend any session in the prosecution process where the defendant has the right to be present, such as evidence hearings and plea hearings, under certain laws. In some states, victims are given the option to have a representative attend their trials and other proceedings on their behalf; this person can either be an attorney or a victim advocate.
In federal court, the Victim's Rights Amendment of 1998 gives victims the right to be notified about court proceedings and given an opportunity to be heard. The amendment does not apply to cases that were pending when it took effect in 1999, but it does give victims the right to be included in post-trial motions and appeals.
In most states, victims have the right to appeal decisions by judges at pretrial hearings (such as orders denying motions to dismiss charges), during trial (such as rulings on objections), and after trial (for example, if the jury returns verdicts of guilty but mentally ill). Some statutes allow victims to appeal certain other types of orders as well. These appeals are usually conducted by the same body that tried the case: state courts for civil matters and federal courts for criminal matters.
Appeals are handled differently in each jurisdiction. For examples, in California, victims have the right to appeal certain pre-trial rulings by a judge.