When trying to respond to charges, one approach in criminal law that defendants sometimes consider is seeking a bench trial. Instead of going through the process of seating and selecting a juror, the defendant submits to the judgment of the court in evaluating the credibility of evidence and arguments. The bench trial offers an alternative to a jury trial, and while an uncommon choice, it does provide some appeal to people in very specific circumstances. When you retain the counsel of a criminal law services firm, you may want to take these factors into account.
One advantage of the bench trial is that it allows you to skip certain aspects of the jury trial process. Instead of working to select a jury and presenting arguments to jurors, you simply present your case to the judge. At the back end of a trial, you also won't have to wait while 12 people argue back and forth about your guilt or innocence. This also significantly reduces the risk of a hung jury, a mistrial, or a retrial.
The idea of arguing your case to one judge is generally less appealing than arguing to 12 jurors because there's a decent chance that at least one juror might dig in on a key issue and force a deadlock that can't be resolved. Conversely, jurors can often be convinced by the sheer authority of the prosecutor, a person who makes a living projecting legal authority. With a judge hearing your case, you can rest assured that difficult legal nuances won't go over the judge's head.
Know Your Target
It might sound a little sneaky to consider it, but working with a judge during a bench trial increases your ability to go into a case knowing the previous opinions of the person who'll make a decision. Your attorney may review a judge's published opinions and choose to build a bench trial around the judge's known penchant for certain legal arguments.
Individuals whose cases or physical appearances present problems of extreme prejudgment may also want to take advantage of the bench trial system within criminal law. For example, a gang member, especially one who has visibly identifying tattoos that are hard to hide, may not want to be judged by 12 concerned citizens. Bench trials are also appealing to defendants whose backgrounds may be prejudged, such as those accused of financial crimes.
For more information about criminal law cases, visit the websites of local law professionals.