Have you been charged with a crime in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? Just the same as the rest of the country, you are most likely entitled to a jury trial or bench trial (also known as a non-jury trial).
If you have been accused of a crime, it goes without saying that you are worried about the outcome of the case. While your attorney is more than happy to explain the difference between a jury trial and a bench trial, there are some basics you can pick up on your own.
Jury Trial Details
A jury trial is where one accused of a crime is permitted to select from his or her peers and fellow citizens, a jury of 12 impartial individuals to sit and hear evidence and to make a decision about whether or not the government has met its burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
With this in mind, you may begin to think about what goes into the jury selection process. Most importantly, will you be making the selection on your own? Fortunately, your attorney can handle this step in the process for you.
When selecting a jury, an individual as well as the government has unlimited strikes for cause. In short, this means they can prevent from sitting on the jury anyone who has shown that they cannot be fair or impartial.
An accused, as well as the government, has a limited number of peremptory strikes. With these, they can strike any juror for any reason they want.
When the selection process is complete, there is a jury of 12 people that will sit and listen to evidence.
Note: before the trial ever begins, there is a lot that goes on with the selection of the jury. The most experienced and knowledgeable lawyers have a strategy for choosing jurors that will give their client the best chance of success.
What about a Bench Trial?
In a bench trial, the selection process detailed above is eliminated. Instead, a judge sits to hear the evidence presented by both sides.
Which One is Best?
The decision on whether to proceed with a jury or bench trial is not always “cut and dry.” What works in one situation may not work in another.
Of course, this is a critical decision in your case. This decision can only be made after consulting with an experienced attorney who has been part of both types of trials.
If you have been charged with a crime, the time may come to decide between a jury and bench trial. Contact us today for more information on each trial type, as well as a free consultation to discuss how to best move forward.