When you’re charged with a criminal offense, you’ll likely have the ability to resolve your case through a plea bargain. But if you want your day in court to force the prosecution to present its case against you, you need to be prepared for trial. While this certainly means building an aggressive criminal defense and includes gathering physical evidence and lining up witnesses to testify on your behalf, it also means knowing how to navigate the logistical issues involved in your case.
What kind of trial do you want?
One of those logistical challenges can be choosing what type of trial you want. You have a Constitutional right to be tried by a jury of your peers, but you don’t have to go that route. Instead, you can choose to have what’s referred to as a bench trial, where the judge hears the evidence and makes the ultimate decision as to your guilt.
So, which one is best for you?
The benefits of a bench trial
There are benefits to each type of trial. A bench trial can be especially beneficial if your case will turn on evidentiary issues where the application of the rules of evidence will apply. A judge is more knowledgeable here than a jury will be, and you should be able to trust the judge to view the evidence from an unbiased perspective. This could give you a leg up if you’re dealing with a lot of statutory and rule-based arguments, or if the legal questions at hand are complicated.
Additionally, a bench trial can be much more efficient. You won’t have to worry about what evidence can and can’t be heard by the jury, and foregoing the jury selection process means that you might be able to get to trial faster. A lot of people find bench trials less intimidating, too, which might reduce the amount of stress that you’re dealing with slightly in your case.
The benefits of a jury trial
A jury trial might be best for you if you have a story to tell. Here, you can appeal to the jury’s emotions to try to sway them to your side. Remember, juries tend to be sympathetic, which could play to your favor. Additionally, if you choose a jury trial, you’ll have the ability to have input into jury selection.
During the jury selection process, your attorney and the prosecution will question potential jurors to determine if they have any biases that could impact their view of the evidence. If these biases or potential biases are identified, an attorney can move to have that individual dismissed from the jury pool for cause. Each side also has a limited number of opportunities for removing individuals from the jury without specifying a reason. These challenges just can’t be discriminatory in nature.
Confidently navigate the intricacies of your criminal case
There’s a lot to think about when you’re up against an aggressive prosecution. You’ll need to diligently work to gather the evidence that you need to protect yourself, and you’ll want to know how to effectively maneuver the legal process to give yourself every possible advantage.
All of this can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to keep your normal life together while you wait for your criminal matter to play out. But you might be able to reduce the amount of stress that you feel by diligently preparing your case. After all, doing so is the only way to rest easy knowing that you’ve done everything you can to act on your rights and protect your future.