A mistrial might occur for several reasons and can be very frustrating for all parties involved. A mistrial is not a conviction, but it is not an acquittal either. In most cases, defendants are given a chance at a new trial after a mistrial.
A mistrial happens when something gets in the way of a trial’s impartiality, and a fair verdict is no longer possible. In many cases, mistrials lead to new trials. Hung juries, or juries that cannot agree on a verdict, are common causes of mistrials and typically lead to a retrial. Prosecutorial misconduct may also cause a mistrial but is a bit more likely to lead to a dismissal of the charges. Depending on how your mistrial happened, you might have a good reason why a retrial should be avoided and the charges dismissed.
Going through a criminal trial is hard enough, but going through a criminal trial twice might leave you feeling overwhelmed. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you through this challenging time. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case review.
What Is a Mistrial in Utah?
A mistrial is when something interferes with the trial’s impartiality or fairness. When such circumstances are discovered, courts may halt the trial and start the entire process over from the beginning. In many mistrial cases, courts schedule a new trial for the defendant and ensure that the incident or mishap that caused the mistrial is avoided the second time around. However, retrials are not always possible, and a dismissal might be more appropriate, depending on the circumstances.
Mistrials are often declared when jurors cannot reach a verdict or when people prevent the trial from continuing or inhibit impartiality. When this happens, retrials can happen, but they do not always have to. Our Layton criminal defense lawyers can help you with your new trial if one is scheduled.
Other causes of mistrials may include the jury seeing the defendant in handcuffs before trial, jurors discussing the case before deliberations, jury tampering, and witness intimidation.
Avoiding retrial is often tricky as courts are reluctant to let defendants go after having already put so much time and effort into the first trial. However, you can use the circumstances to your advantage and argue that prosecutors should drop the charges or that the court should dismiss the case. Depending on the details of your case, you might have a good reason why a retrial is not possible.
Being Retried After a Mistrial Because of a Hung Jury in Utah
Many mistrials, if not most of them, are caused by hung juries. A hung jury is a jury panel that cannot agree on a verdict. The verdict usually must be unanimous, and if a couple of holdouts refuse to change their votes, they might cause a hung jury.
The jury might be asked to try deliberating again before a hung jury is officially declared. When a hung jury is finally declared, it causes a mistrial. The defendant will be tried a second time before a new jury in most cases. A retrial ordinarily does not run afoul of the Double Jeopardy rule because the defendant was never convicted or acquitted.
In cases of hung juries, retrials are common. Although, some causes of mistrials make retrials difficult. For example, if a hung jury occurred because of jury tampering, a retrial might not happen, and the case could instead be dismissed.
Our Ogden criminal defense attorneys have experience with mistrials and retrials, and we can help you get a second shot at justice. A retrial can even be used to your advantage because now you know the evidence and strategy used by prosecutors.
Can I Be Retried After a Mistrial Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct in Utah?
Although mistrials typically come from hung juries, sometimes they come from attorneys or court officials. Misconduct often leads to mistrials and retrials. Who commits the misconduct may also influence whether or not there is a retrial. Our Murray criminal defense attorneys can help you with your potential retrial.
When a prosecutor breaks the rules to gain the upper hand in court, it may be considered an act of prosecutorial misconduct. This kind of behavior is thought to taint the entire trial, and the court will declare a mistrial in such cases. While a retrial is certainly possible, we can help you argue against one in favor of complete dismissal.
You and your lawyer have to bring any signs of prosecutorial misconduct to the court’s attention and move for a mistrial. If the motion is granted, the next decision will be whether you can be retried.
Sometimes, the misconduct is so severe that the court does not allow the prosecutor to pursue the charges again. For example, if a prosecutor committed misconduct because they knew they were going to lose and wanted to cause a retrial so they could start over, the judge would likely deny the prosecutor’s the chance to refile the case. To allow a retrial would be to reward the prosecutor’s bad behavior.
Can I Avoid a Retrial After a Mistrial in Utah?
More often than not, a new trial is scheduled after a mistrial. However, like the prosecutorial misconduct mentioned before, less savory circumstances might be grounds for complete dismissal. Other times, prosecutors choose to cut their losses and drop the charges.
In some cases, prosecutors realize that the mistrial occurred because they do not have enough evidence to prove their case. The prosecutor might choose to drop the charges in such circumstances instead of pursuing a futile case. Other times, the effort to retry the case greatly outweighs the magnitude of the charges. It is very expensive to put on a trial, and if the charges are minor, prosecutors might feel it is not a good use of their time to retry. Our Park City criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your charges in a new trial or work to convince prosecutors to drop the charges.
If a mistrial resulted from tainted or unlawful evidence, and the remaining evidence is insufficient to warrant a trial, the case may be dismissed for lack of evidence. Alternatively, if the mistrial resulted from the misconduct, the court might dismiss the case instead of allowing a retrial.
Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help
If you are awaiting trial or have already gone through a mistrial, call our Provo criminal defense lawyers for help. We can help you through a retrial if one is scheduled. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free evaluation of your case.