We’ve all seen crime dramas where the defense attorney paces in front of 12 jurors, eloquently laying out reasons for her client’s innocence. In reality, cases are usually settled between attorneys before they go to trial. Those that do go trial aren’t always tried in front of a jury and are instead heard and decided by a single judge. But which is better? Would a judge or jury trial be more beneficial to you?
A bench trial is one that is heard and decided by a judge. Overall, bench trials tend to take less time. The process of selecting jurors for a trial can add a lot of time to a trial whereas with a bench trial, you can get started right away. Nor do they have opening and closing statements which can take up a lot of time during a trial. If you’re planning on defending yourself, a bench trial is usually more beneficial. There are a lot of rules to follow in court and a judge may be understanding of the fact that you’re not experienced those rules and overlook them or give you a little guidance.
Judges are better at understanding complex legal issues than juries, so if your case is complicated, a judge may work more to your benefit.
Judges mainly want to hear the facts of the case and make their decision. Juries, on the other hand, want to hear your story. They have more empathy and want to understand who you are before they decide your guilt or innocence. They usually are made up of 12 people with 2 alternates. Jury trials are usually more time-consuming because there must be jury selection, open and closing statements, and stricter adherence to all of the rules and procedures that are supposed to be followed during a trail.
It may be helpful to know a little about the judge that’s hearing your case before you decide whether a bench or jury trial will be best. Some judges may tend to lean one way or the other when it comes to your particular alleged crime, so you should ask your attorney if he or she knows about the judge’s previous decisions before making a choice. Your attorney should be experienced with both jury and bench trials and should be able to advise you on which would bring the best outcome in your case.
However, it may not be your choice whether or not you have a jury trial. Crimes that carry a jail term of 6 months or less or imposes less than a $5,000 fine usually aren’t given the option of a jury trial and a judge will decide your case. If a jury trial is allowed but you prefer a bench trial, you must request it in writing and the court must approve it. If you’ve been arrested, 1st Knight Bail Bonds is here to help. For a non-refundable fee of 10%, our expert bond agents can get you out of jail and back home as quickly as possible. We always treat our clients with respect and we always answer our calls. Call 1st Knight today at (727)538-7727 and you’ll be home before you know it.