In the United States, criminal cases are often tried by a jury of peers. However, not all criminal cases have juries. Depending on the severity of the crime and the jurisdiction, a judge may hear the case instead of a jury. Here's what you need to know about criminal cases and juries.
What is a Jury Trial?
A jury trial is when a group of people is selected to hear evidence and decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. The jury is made up of impartial citizens who are not connected to the case in any way. The prosecution presents evidence to prove their case, and the defense presents evidence to argue against the prosecution's case. The jury then decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty based on the evidence presented.
When is a Jury Trial Required?
In most criminal cases, the defendant has the right to a trial by jury. This means that the prosecution must prove their case to a jury of peers beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. In some cases, the defendant may choose to waive their right to a jury trial and have the case heard by a judge instead. Additionally, some states allow judges to hear certain types of cases without a jury.
What Types of Cases Do Not Have Juries?
In general, only minor criminal cases are heard without a jury. For example, traffic violations and minor misdemeanors may be heard by a judge instead of a jury. Additionally, in some states, certain felony cases may be heard without a jury if the defendant agrees to a bench trial. However, for most serious criminal cases, a jury trial is required.
Why Choose a Jury Trial?
There are several reasons why a defendant may choose to have a jury trial. First, juries are typically made up of ordinary citizens who may be more sympathetic to the defendant than a judge who has heard countless criminal cases. Additionally, juries are more likely to be influenced by emotional appeals than a judge who is trained to remain impartial. Finally, juries may be more likely to acquit a defendant in cases where the evidence is weak or circumstantial.
Not all criminal cases have juries, but most serious criminal cases do. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to understand your rights and the legal system. Make sure to reach out to a criminal defense attorney, like one of our pros at The Meranda Law Firm LTD, to discuss your case and determine the best course of action. We have experience representing clients in both jury and bench trials and will go above and beyond to advocate for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us begin work on your case.