When facing charges for a criminal offense in the Van Nuys area, you might not realize the importance of the decisions you have to make. One decision involves having a jury trial or a bench trial. Though the law entitles you to a fair trial by a jury of your peers, it might be in your best interest to say no and ask for a bench trial.
There are some clear distinctions between jury and bench trials. It is important for you to understand what they are, especially if you are facing drug, DUI or theft criminal charges. Here is a brief overview of the benefits of bench trials.
Jury trials are usually more formal than bench trials. In a bench trial, the judge determines the protocol. There are fewer court procedures because there is no jury involved.
Less time for the prosecution to gather evidence
The longer it takes for your case to go to court, the more time law enforcement and the prosecutor has to gather evidence against you. It is possible that the charges you currently face are contingent on weak evidence. It takes time to select a jury. Jury members must be paid for their time. This can increase the number of fees you will have to pay after sentencing. By avoiding a jury trial, you can reduce the time it takes to resolve your case and lower your legal expenses because your attorney might need as much time to build a good defense for your situation.
Reduces likelihood of emotion-driven convictions
Jurors are not well-versed in the interpretation of the law. Though they must pass a stringent screening process, it is still possible for them to have prejudices that interfere with your right to due process. Because they are not legal experts, their decisions are often based on their emotions, not necessarily the facts and evidence that are presented.
The above benefits are not an all-inclusive list. To better understand whether it is better for you to have a jury trial or to waive it, you should speak with an attorney for guidance.