Many people who are facing a criminal charge are told by their lawyer that if they go to a jury trial, they cannot be found guilty if just one out of the twelve jurors votes “not guilty.” While that statement is true, what persons accused of crimes do not realize is that the same is true for a not guilty verdict. To be found not guilty, all twelve jurors must agree on that verdict.
So what happens if the jury cannot agree after hearing all of the evidence at a trial? When this happens, the court declares a mistrial, which is often referred to as a “hung jury.”
When a hung jury is the result in your case, what happens next? You would think since the prosecution could not prove you guilty, the charges should be dismissed. Unfortunately, that is not the law in California.
What Happens After a Hung Jury Ruling at Trial?
After your first trial results in a hung jury, it is up to the prosecution to decide if they want to have a second crack at having you found guilty. More often than not, the prosecutor will advise the court they wish to retry the case, and a new trial date will be set.
If the first trial ended in a high number of votes for not guilty (such as 10 for not guilty and 2 for guilty), some judges may pressure the prosecutor to dismiss the case. Your lawyer may be able to argue that a new trial will not result in new evidence being presented to the court or new witnesses testifying, so why do prosecutors think they can change the mind of 10 jurors to obtain a guilty verdict?
In some cases, this argument works, but judges often permit the case to go to a second jury trial.
Now, let’s say there’s a second trial for your case and that jury also cannot reach a verdict. Could the prosecution actually drag the accused through a third trial? That is exactly what is happening right now in a federal case involving James Mazzo, a former CEO accused of insider trading.
Can You Have Three Trials for the Same Criminal Charge?
One month after the jury was unable to reach a verdict in Mazzo’s second trial, federal prosecutors asked the court to move forward with a third trial.
In an order denying the defense’s motions to dismiss the case, U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford cited United States v. Miller, 4 F3d 792, 794 (9th Cir. 1993) and said:
“Despite the appealing nature of Mr. Mazzo’s arguments, the oath taken by this judge requires that he apply the law as it exists. And unfortunately, the only time the 9th Circuit addressed this issue directly, it concluded ‘that the fact that a jury was hung by a six to six vote, or by one even more favorable to the defendant is not an adequate basis for dismissal under the court’s supervisory powers.’”
Although the judge in this case expressed a desire to dismiss the charges, he is obligated to uphold the law, and previous court rulings established that he must permit a third trial in a federal criminal case.
What Should You Do if After Your Trial Results in a Hung Jury?
It costs a lot of money to hire a qualified criminal defense law firm to defend you during a jury trial. Additionally, as the accused, you will have to miss time from work and go through major stress if another trial takes place.
That is why your criminal defense attorney should do everything in his or her own power to not allow a second or third jury trial to take place in your case. In California, Penal Code Section 1385 gives judges more discretion to dismiss a case after there are two mistrials involving hung juries. If you or a loved one has faced a jury trial and there has been no unanimous verdict reached, your lawyer should be making this motion to have the case dismissed.
Call the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, the criminal justice system could feel like an overwhelming, never-ending maze. That is why you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the court system. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled and knowledgeable criminal lawyers have been successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, our experienced criminal defense lawyers are available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our law firm today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation regarding your case. We will be there when you call.