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What’s the Difference in a Bench Trial and Jury Trial?

If your criminal matter cannot be resolved to your satisfaction you may have to go to trial.

Criminal defense attorney and trial lawyer, Aaron J. Boria, has won trials for his clients from misdemeanors to felonies. Call (734) 453-7806. 

The ability to win trials requires having the right trial strategy. Know the differences between trials by the judge and trials by a jury. 

Sometimes you go to trial because you have a good case and prosecution refuses to dismiss, other times you go to trial because the prosecutor is unreasonable or has over charged your case, and other times you go to trial because you have nothing to lose.

Jury Trial

In a criminal jury trial, for a misdemeanor in Michigan, seven jurors are picked and six will ultimately decide the case.

In a felony trial, fourteen jurors are picked and twelve of them will decide the case.

The reason for the extra jurors is in case someone doesn’t show. 

In a jury trial, your attorney will have an opportunity to speak with the jurors and get to know them before opening statements, this process is called voir dire. If for some reason a juror is biased your attorney can have them removed for cause. If there is a juror that simple rubs you the wrong way but you just can’t quite pick put your finger on why, you can use one of your limited preemptory challenges to have that juror removed.

At the end of the trial, the jurors’ verdict must be unanimous, meaning that all of them must agree on a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If not all of the jurors can agree the case will result in a mistrial and may have to be tried again, this is rare occurrence. 

In a jury trial, the judge decides the law and rules on objections, and the jury decides the facts and ultimately the verdict. 

My experiences is that juries tend to be more down to earth and will usually do the right thing when it comes to deciding a case. 

Bench Trial

In a bench trial the judge decides the law as well as the facts of the case.

Opening statements tend to be shorter and since there is no jury there is no voir dire.

Many judges tend to be biased toward the prosecution and for that reason our office tends to choose jury trials over bench trials. This is especially true in small jurisdictions where the judge  personally knows the cops and the prosecutor and the major issue is the truthfulness of the cop.  

There are some good judges out there that will decide a case fairly and apply the law, but many are biased so it is important to know your judge if you are considering waiving off the jury.

A benefit to a trial by judge is that judges are more likely to follow the black letter of the law. Trails by judge tend to be less time consuming and less expensive.  

Michigan criminal lawyer

If your case is headed to trial contact criminal attorney, Aaron J. Boria (734) 453-7806.

We fight for our clients and we get results. As a two-time CDAM trial college graduate we know how to win a case.

Many lawyers price trials so high they are unaffordable for clients. Many lawyers are afraid to go to trial. A choking number of lawyers have never held a trial. 

For the past 10 years, criminal lawyer, Aaron J. Boria has won the vast majority of trials he has had. If you know you’re not guilty and you want to go to trial call us today! (734) 453-7806