If you’re facing charges for a criminal offense, finding an excellent criminal lawyer is likely your number one priority. You’re also probably wondering what the outcome of your trial will be. Maybe you’ve heard the word “mistrial” before, but you’re not sure what it means. Criminal law can be confusing. That’s why we’ve put together some basic information about what every criminal lawyer thinks you should know about mistrials.
What is a Mistrial?
As defined by the American Bar Association, a mistrial is a trial that isn’t successfully completed. This occurs when the trial is stopped and declared void before the judge renders their decision or the jury returns with a verdict. The trial then has no bearing on the case, present or future. Either side can make a motion for a mistrial. The judge either grants the motion and declares a mistrial or denies the motion and continues with the trial.
Why Do Mistrials Happen?
There are many different reasons that mistrials occur. The most common cause of a mistrial is a deadlock of the jury, or “hung jury.” This happens when the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision. Another reason for a mistrial is if an impropriety in drawing the jury is discovered during trial. Additionally, any misconduct on the part of the jury can lead to a mistrial. Examples of juror misconduct include conducting an independent investigation of the case, considering evidence not presented in the trial, or contacting one of the parties involved. Though it’s much less common, mistrials can also occur because a juror or criminal lawyer dies during the trial.
What Happens After a Mistrial?
What follows a mistrial varies depending on the case. Usually, another criminal defense trial is scheduled and the process essentially starts over. However, in some cases, the prosecutor will dismiss the charges and the case can be closed. Other times, the prosecutor and the defense attorney are able to reach a plea agreement. In any case, it’s best to have an experienced criminal lawyer that will know how to guide you through any of these situations.
Is a Mistrial a Good Thing?
Most of the time, a mistrial is good news for the defendant. The prosecution may decide to dismiss the charges altogether. Not to mention, if the prosecution’s case isn’t rock solid, they may decide not to spend the money and time a second trial would require. Even if the prosecution decides to retry the case, the defense attorney is at an advantage. They have seen the prosecution’s strategy and can be better prepared for the second trial. Occasionally, the prosecution may be barred from scheduling a second trial if they were accused of some sort of misconduct. Though it is uncommon, it is something that happens.
Does a Mistrial Mean the Case is Closed?
Some people hear mistrial and think that means the case is closed, but this isn’t always true. In the event of a mistrial, all parties have to decide how they want to proceed. In most cases, a second trial is scheduled based on the same criminal charges as the first trial. However, it is possible that a mistrial could lead to charges being dismissed.
At Hurtado Cavanaugh, we know the entire criminal defense court progression can be confusing and scary, especially if your future is at risk. As practiced and knowledgeable criminal lawyers, we can answer any questions you may have and guide you through the entire process. If you need a criminal lawyer you can trust, contact Hurtado Cavanaugh today.