Choosing A Judge Or Jury Trial For Your Criminal Case
If you have been charged with a crime in Atlanta or the greater Georgia area, you may already be envisioning your trial and how it will go. One thing you may not have considered is whether to have a jury trial or a bench trial. Although you have a right to a jury trial for any crime you are charged with, you do not have to exercise it. If you elect not to have a jury trial, the alternative is a bench trial, in which a judge is the sole person making a decision on your case. Although this may seem daunting, there are a number of situations in which it is probably more advantageous to have a judge as opposed to a jury.
In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of a jury trial versus a bench trial, however, it’s important to understand that every case is different. The best strategy in one case may be the worst in another, so take everything with a grain of salt. It’s also important to seek experienced legal counsel to get strategic insight on your case. Although many people avoid seeking legal help because they are concerned about the potentially high cost, you may be surprised to know that you can get a free consultation. You may also be surprised to learn at the consultation that legal representation is far more affordable than you thought, and also a critical and worthwhile investment in your future. If you would like to talk with the experienced Dunwoody criminal defense lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers and gain valuable legal insights, contact our law firm today to schedule a free and personalized consultation.
Pros and Cons of Bench and Jury Trials
The best type of trial for you depends entirely on the specific circumstances of your case. If you are representing yourself, a bench trial will almost always be advantageous as compared to a jury trial. It is a lot of pressure to represent yourself in court, and almost impossible to do so well unless you have extensive knowledge of the law and procedural requirements for court. Being stressed and appearing to be unprofessional, flustered, or upset in front of jurors can hurt your credibility. Additionally, if you make mistakes, such as accidentally mentioning something incriminating that was otherwise off limits, while a judge can declare it inadmissible, there is no way to ensure that jurors will not be consciously or unconsciously biased by what they heard.
A judge, on the other hand, is more likely to stick to the letter of the law and successfully compartmentalize oversteps and mistakes. Of course, it is almost never advisable to represent yourself in court; you always have the option to have a lawyer represent you even if you cannot afford to pay for representation. If your case is highly technical and likely to make regular jurors’ eyes glaze over, it may also be better suited for a judge. Similarly, if the subject matter of your case could evoke an emotional or prejudicial reaction from jurors, it may also be a safer bet to try your case in front of a judge. If the emotional aspects of the case or the subject matter could distract from the legal issues at hand, this is an important consideration in favor of a bench trial. On the other hand, if you come off as very sympathetic in your case or a jury is likely to take your side, a jury would likely be advantageous. A lawyer can help you weigh and assess the pros and cons of having a jury or bench trial in your specific case.
Talk to an Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges in Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, or the greater Georgia area, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.