Constitutional FAQ Answer #25
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.