Jury Trial: In felony cases, a “Jury Trial” involves a panel of 8 jurors, who are your peers from the community. They are responsible for determining whether you are “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” “not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” or if they are unable to reach a unanimous verdict (“hung”). If the jury cannot reach a verdict, the state has several options: they can move to dismiss the charges, negotiate a new plea agreement with your defense counsel, or retry the defendant on the same charges until a verdict is reached. If your case carries a potential sentence of 30 years or more in prison, you are entitled to a 12-member jury. If the jury returns a guilty verdict on one or more charges, the judge will schedule a Sentencing date. It’s important to note that upon a guilty verdict from the jury, you will be taken into custody immediately. You will then remain in custody for 30 days while the “Presentence Report” is prepared, after which the Sentencing will take place or the case may be set over to a Mitigation Hearing (see Plea Agreements / Sentencing).
Bench Trial: You also have the right to opt for a “Bench Trial,” where the trial is conducted directly in front of the judge. Generally, in felony cases, it is advisable to choose a jury trial unless your case involves specific facts that may provoke a negative reaction from a jury. Most judges have extensive experience and are less likely to be influenced by factors that could prejudice your case. They typically evaluate the law impartially and assess the facts in an objective manner. Additionally, judges may not give as much credibility to law enforcement testimony as a jury might, as they have encountered both exemplary and flawed officers throughout their careers. Once again, it is crucial to have an experienced and competent defense attorney, such as TedLaw, to represent you during your trial. If the judge returns a guilty verdict on one or more charges, they will set a “Sentencing” date. Remember, when the judge delivers a guilty verdict, you will be taken into custody immediately. Subsequently, you will remain in custody for 30 days while the “Presentence Report” is prepared (see Plea Agreements / Presentence Report / Sentencing), after which Sentencing will occur or the case may proceed to a Mitigation Hearing.
To discuss Jury Trials or Bench Trials and receive legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances, we encourage you to contact TedLaw. Our skilled attorneys are available to assist you throughout the process.