In New York, if you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater, you will be charged with driving while under the influence (DUI). DUI is a serious crime with significant penalties such as hefty fines, license suspension, and even jail time. If you have recently been charged with DUI, you might wonder what your best course of action is to avoid severe penalties. Often, individuals wonder whether they have the right to a jury trial in which a group of jurors decides whether they are guilty. Please continue reading to learn whether you have the right to a jury trial and discover how a seasoned Queens DUI Lawyer can help you determine whether you have a better chance of fighting your case with a jury or judge.
When facing DUI charges, you can pursue a judge or jury trial. If you request a jury trial, legal arguments and evidence will be presented to a group of impartial jurors. The jurors must then unanimously vote on whether they believe you have committed the crime in question. In a bench trial, also called a judge trial, legal arguments and evidence are presented directly to the judge. The judge then decides whether the prosecution has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a bench trial, there is no jury involved. The judge will act in the same manner as a jury. Although you have the right to request a jury trial, depending on the circumstances of the crime, you may be better suited to a bench trial than a jury trial.
In most cases, jury trials take longer than bench trials. This is mainly because of the time it takes for jury selection and the time it takes for the judge to explain the law to the selected jurors. In a jury trial, there is the possibility of a hung jury. As mentioned above, jurors must come to a unanimous vote. If jurors cannot unanimously decide on guilt, the court must declare a mistrial based on the “hung jury.” The prosecution can retry a case following a mistrial; however, in most cases, they do not bother to do so. This is because they do not want to waste their time and resources. Therefore, a hung jury can significantly benefit your case as it can result in dismissed charges. There is no possibility of a hung jury in a bench trial as there are no jurors. Furthermore, jurors don’t always adhere to the law, which can lead to biases and extraneous circumstances that impact their decision on whether they are guilty. In a bench trial, judges are more predictable as they are more likely to stick to the law.
Ultimately, if you have been charged with DUI, it is in your best interest to retain the legal services of a skilled Queens DUI lawyer from Vasiliou Law, who can help you determine whether your particular case is better suited with a judge or jury trial.