If you are facing serious criminal charges, you have an absolute right to a jury trial - but is having one in your best interests? This is an important question that is important to give careful consideration. There is no one-size-fits-all perfect answer to this question. Instead, you and your experienced criminal lawyer must carefully weigh the facts and circumstances of your case and make the decision that is best for you in light of these factors.
Your Right to a Trial by Jury
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I of the Texas constitution guarantee you the right to a trial by jury. This means that all of the following apply:
You will have either 6 or 12 jurors (depending upon the type of crime you have been charged with) – all of whom are deemed impartial on the matter at hand.
All of your jurors must unanimously agree that you are either innocent or guilty.
To find you guilty, your jurors must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
After finding you guilty, the jury must also be able to forward your appropriate punishment.
Waiving Your Right to a Jury Trial
Although you have the right to a jury trial, you are also allowed to waive this right in any case other than a capital case that seeks the death penalty. You will likely need to waive your right to a jury trial both in open court and in writing. Both the judge and the attorney who is representing the state must sign off on your waiver and will do so as long as you expressly waive the right both knowingly and voluntarily. The time to waive this right is before you enter your formal plea in the case.
If your waiver is deemed valid, the judge alone will hear your case and decide your guilt or innocence based on whether the state proves your case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is known as a bench trial, and If your guilt is determined, the judge will set the appropriate punishment.
Reasons to Waive the Right to a Jury Trial
Again, every decision in every case must be based on the unique circumstances involved. Nevertheless, there are several reasons that a defendant might want to consider waiving a jury trial. For example, if a case involves extremely complicated legal issues, it might be difficult for a jury to understand everything presented while staying focused and on task. In addition, when cases involve emotionally charged issues, it may be advisable to waive your right to a jury trial.
You Need an Experienced Killeen Criminal Lawyer on Your Side
If you are facing criminal charges, deciding whether to proceed with a jury trial or not is only one of the critical decisions that Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, will help you make. Mr. Pritchard is a criminal lawyer who is committed to helping you obtain your case’s optimal resolution. We care about you and your case, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.