When facing a criminal charge, a big decision you might have to make is whether you want your case to be decided by a judge or a jury. This is no small matter; the outcome could have a huge impact on your life.
Most defendants choose to opt for a jury of their peers, and for good reason: to be judged guilty, the jury must be unanimous. You have better odds at convincing 1 out of 12 people of your innocence than you do a single judge.
If there’s a deadlock, or if just a single juror disagrees with his or her peers, the judge will be forced to declare a mistrial. When this happens, the prosecutor will either retry the case, dismiss the charges, or work out a plea agreement.
A mistrial usually benefits the defendant because you’ll know who the prosecutor will bring up to testify and what they’ll say, giving the defense lawyer the ability a preview to more effectively cross-examine them. The prosecutor will often choose to offer a better plea deal or dismiss the case because they know that they are in a weakerposition.
There’s an emotional element to consider. Judges are usually less swayed by their emotions because of their vast experience in the courtroom. Jurors are more prone to becoming emotionally involved if they can relate to the defendant in some way.
What to Do
This is general advice and might not be best for your individual case. In specific situations, we might be able to take actions that avoid a trial altogether, such as filing a motion to dismiss the case. You have options, and our defense attorneys will go over them with you so that you understand the pros and cons of each one.