If you are facing the possibility of going to court, understanding the process of how your type of trial is determined can help you be more prepared. As you prepare, try to work with effective legal counsel to know what to do and say. Understanding this process and being prepared will give you peace of mind.
This is the most commonly thought of kind of trial when it comes to criminal defense cases. A jury trial involves six to twelve jurists who are tasked with determining a defendant guilty or not guilty. While the jury is responsible for determining the verdict, a judge will still determine the sentence.
Jury trials can have a lot of benefits for defendants—for one, evidence put forth before the judge deemed inadmissible can be stopped before any of the defendants hear the evidence and are swayed by it whether they want to be or not.
A bench trial is simply a trial by a judge instead of a jury. In a jury trial, the jury must determine the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt while in a bench trial, that determination falls to the judge or judges.
Determining whether or not you will have a jury or bench trial depends on a number of factors including your jurisdiction, the nature of the offense, and sometimes your preferences. In some situations, bench trials can be advantageous because they tend to be faster and can be more reliable in how they will apply the legal rules.
Civil, Traffic, Juvenile, or Criminal Trial
In addition to having the option of being determined guilty by either a bench or a jury, there are also different procedures depending on the case type for your trial. Depending on the infraction you have committed, your case may be classified as a civil suit—usually involving a dispute between two people or business parties.
Your case may be heard in juvenile court if you are a minor. Depending on your case type, there will be different types of trial—a traffic infraction hearing will not require a jury while a criminal trial will require a jury.
As you plan for and prepare for your court date, make sure to do your research about your particular jurisdiction. Work to understand how different aspects of the law work in relation to your particular offense. This research will help you feel more ease as you think about how your court hearing will go.
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