Venue is defined simply as the appropriate place of trial. In criminal cases, fairness and convenience to the defendants are the underlying policy in determining venue. It has been often ruled that the basic requirement of placing venue in the district wherein the crime has been committed must be determined from the nature of the crime alleged and the location of the act or acts constituting it.
However, courts must consider such factors as convenience of and fairness to the defendants and witnesses and the prompt administration of justice in setting venue and considering motions for the change of venue. Questions of venue in criminal cases “are not merely matters of formal legal procedure. They raise deep issues of public policy in the light of which legislation must be construed” (United States v. Johnson cited in VENUE- Cases).
In order to comply with this public policy, courts will allow a change of venue if injustice will result and prejudice so great will exist against the defendant or if the procurement of witnesses will be difficult if no change of venue will be made. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows a change of venue upon three instances, to wit: upon the judge’s own motion, upon motion of the state prosecution, and upon the defendant’s own motion (Chapter 31).
On the other hand, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allows change of venue for trial only upon defendant’s own motion (Rule 21). Curiously, the Federal Rules only allow change of venue for prejudice and for convenience on the part of the defendant alone, and only upon his own motion. On the other hand, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows change of venue not only for the convenience and to avoid prejudice against the defendant but also to afford a fair and impartial trial to the State and upon the motion of the judge or of the state prosecution.
The inevitable conclusion is that the Federal Rules seek to afford a fair and impartial trial in favor of the accused alone in interpreting the public policy behind the determination of venue in criminal trials, while the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure seeks to afford a fair and impartial trial in favor of both the State and the accused in determining the venue in criminal cases.
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Retrieved from the world wide web on Nov. 22, 2007. http://www. law. cornell. edu/rules/frcrmp/Rule21. html. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Retrieved from the world wide web on Nov. 22, 2007. http://tlo2. tlc. state. tx. us/cgi-bin/cqcgi. Zalman, Marvin. Venue-Cases. Retrieved from the world wide web Nov. 22, 2007. http://law. jrank. org/pages/2247/Venue. html.