This is part one of a three-part question pertaining to the "Nanny
Trial" in Fall, 1997.
Q25. "As a British national, what constitutional
rights, if any, is Louise Woodward entitled to?"
A. This question is more one of U.S. law than of the U.S. Constitution.
However, it is an interesting one:
Woodward could have been summarily deported back to the U.K.; or she could
be tried under the normal rules of law. If you are tried in a U.S. criminal
court, you are entitled to all rights enjoyed by citizens in the court, even if
you are not a citizen. There may also have been an agreement in effect that
she, as an au pair contracted with the United States Government, agreed to be
subject to its laws.
Generally speaking, anyone physically in the U.S. will be treated as a
citizen, with all rights guaranteed a citizen. There are some exceptions to
this general rule. For example, while entering the United States (and
physically in the United States), a foreign national can be detained and
expelled. In some cases, detention is for an unlimited amount of time, and some
illegal immigrants have been held for years on end.