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Should I Ask For A Jury Trial In Virginia Beach?

by J.D. Garrett on September 26, 2012

Every trial has a “trier of fact” and a “trier of law”. The judge is always the trier of law; in other words, he is the decider on what the law is. In a jury trial, the jury is the trier of fact; in other words, they determine what the facts are. In a bench trial, with only a judge, he is both the trier of facts and the trier of law.

Other than in elections, jury trials are the only time when ordinary people have a direct impact on governance. Anyone who is charged with a criminal offense, and whose liberty is threatened with possible jail or prison time, has a right to a jury trial. This is true whether one is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. But is a jury trial the best decision for everyone?

In most cases, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to advise their client on how a particular judge will rule on certain legal and factual issues. Some judges are more receptive to certain legal arguments and may be more sympathetic to factual scenarios. Also, bench trials are generally much shorter (usually only lasting a few hours) and are far less expensive than jury trials. A jury trial may take days to complete and cost the client five to ten times as much as a bench trial.

Jury trials can be beneficial in cases where the defense is based on shoddy police work or misconduct. Many people respect their local police force, but they also want to be sure the police are doing their job properly, which includes thorough investigation. Defenses involving an honest mistake or a misunderstanding of the law also may be suitable for a jury. In these cases, a juror may easily place themselves in the defendant’s situation, or may have been in that situation, and they do not consider themselves criminals.

The decision to ask for a jury or bench trial should be discussed with your criminal defense attorney. In Virginia Beach, contact Garrett Law Group, PLC at (757) 422-4646 to speak with a Virginia Beach criminal lawyer about your case. Calls are answered 24/7/365.

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