Jury Trials in Georgia
The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution states that a person is entitled to a trial by a jury of their peers. Furthermore, the Georgia Constitution of 1983 also guarantees its citizens the right to a jury trial. Many people get intimidated when faced with the prospect of going to trial, but there is no need to worry. Our Attorneys at Lawson and Berry have decades of criminal experience and will walk you through the best options for your case. Sometimes working out a plea agreement is best while other times going to trial would be more beneficial. It is almost impossible to weigh the pros and cons without an experienced attorney so contact our offices today for a free case evaluation.
What is the Difference Between a Hearing and a Trial?
First, many people get confused between the terms hearing and trial. Simply put hearing and trials are both types of court appearances, but the trial is the final hearing or the last court appearance.
What is a Jury Trial?
A jury trial is a trial where jurors decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. The jurors are made up of individuals from the community that are selected during the voir dire process.
Do I Have to Have a Jury Trial?
Many criminal cases are settled without the defendant ever having to go to trial. Taking your case to trial is a decision to be weighed with your attorney. Furthermore, there are two different types of trials: bench and jury. Bench trials occur when the judge decides the guilt or innocent of a party. To receive a jury trial, you must request one within the appropriate time limits.
Why is a Trial by Jury a Better Choice?
Jury trials can be a better option for your case for many reasons. First, juries tend to be easier audiences than judges. Defense attorneys like to tell a compelling story in support of the defendant and appeal to the juror's emotions while judges are far less likely to make a decision based on emotions. Second, juries tend to award higher verdicts. Whether it is prison terms or amount of damages, the largest verdicts in US history have all come from jury trials. Third, the fate of the defendant doesn't just lie with one person. In bench trials, just one person decides your case, but in jury trials, you get to rely on the experiences of several people before you can be convicted.
Why Might Jury Trials Not be the Better Option?
While there are many advantages to jury trials, there are also things to take into consideration. First, jury trials take much longer than bench trials because it involves jury selection, jury instructions, etc. Longer trials mean more billing by your attorney and therefore, come with a higher cost to you. Second, juries can be unpredictable. They do not have any legal training and may use their emotions instead of the evidence presented. Third, because juries do not have legal training, they may not understand some of the defenses your attorney makes on your behalf.
How Long Does a Trial Take?
Trials can take days or weeks to come to a conclusion. There is no way to predict how long a trial can take which is one of the things to consider when discussing whether or not to go to trial.
Our experience has significant experience with both plea agreements and jury trials. No matter what is best for your case, we are prepared to assist you every step! Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys have over 50 years of criminal law. Contact our offices today for assistance with your case.