There is a long list of legal lingo that can confuse those without a legal background. Legal terms are often thrown around in news articles or conversations about civil or criminal trials, but understanding them can be difficult. It’s especially important to bone up on your legal lingo if you’re facing charges and a potential trial.
Mistrial is one of those terms that is commonly used in reference to legal cases, but is often misunderstood. For example, Bill Cosby’s trial this past year ended in a mistrial, which was largely misunderstood by those following the media coverage.
What is a mistrial?
A mistrial is any trial that does not reach a normal resolution. These trials have no legal action or consequence, and they are considered invalid no matter what the proceedings may have entailed. Essentially it means something went wrong, and the entire thing is thrown out or erased.
A mistrial can be caused by a number of factors, but the most common is a “hung” jury. Almost every state (except Oregon & Louisiana) requires the jury to conclude with a unanimous verdict. If, after deliberation, the jury is unable to come to a unanimous verdict then it will be declared a mistrial. A mistrial can also be declared if there is an issue with jurisdiction or problems with jury selection that are later revealed.
What happens in a mistrial?
Once a mistrial is declared, the justice system has to determine if charges should be dropped, or if a retrial is necessary. Sometimes charges are dropped if it appears they have been incorrect or there isn’t enough evidence to convict. Otherwise, the government can press for a retrial, and the process begins again with a fresh start.
What does this mean for you?
If you are facing legal charges, you need to be aware of what a mistrial can mean for you. An effective and experienced lawyer can keep their eyes out for an opportunity to declare a mistrial to protect your rights in the justice system. If you are facing a retrial after a mistrial, you may need to consider changing your legal representation to more effectively represent you and your interests.
Trusting your attorney and choosing one with the right experience can make all the difference in your case. Take the time to find legal representation that will change the course in your favor. Call Koch, Degn & Gomez for a free consultation and legal advice for your personalized case, and take control of your future today.