Extensive prejudicial pretrial publicity can can create tremendous problems for a defendant to get a fair trial. One tool the courts use to assure a fair trial in these situations is a change of venue. In determining if a defendant is entitled to a change of venue when there is prejudicial pretrial publicity the judge decides whether the defendant can receive a trial by an impartial jury free from outside influences or whether there is a likelihood that the pretrial publicity would prevent a fair trial.
There are seven factors courts consider when ascertaining whether outside influences affecting the publicity will favor a ruling for a change of venue.
- The nature of pretrial publicity and the particular degree to which it has circulated in the community
- The connection of government officials with the release of publicity
- The length of time between the dissemination of publicity and the trial
- The severity and notoriety of the offense
- The area from which the jury is to be drawn
- Other events occurring in the community which either affect or reflect the attitude of the community or individual jurors toward the defendant
- Any factors likely to affect the candor and veracity of prospective jurors on voir dire