Should I have jury trial or a bench trial?

Raleigh Trial Lawyer

In North Carolina, a defendant cannot choose which type of trial he or she wants. If you’re in District Court, a jury trial is not available; a trial will be by judge.

You can effectively choose a jury trial by either having a bench trial in District Court and then appealing, or by pleading not guilty, not resist the verdict and going straight to Superior Court. In general, it makes sense to have a bench trial because there may be a chance of a not-guilty result (which the State cannot appeal) and because your lawyer will get to hear the evidence from the State’s witnesses. Think of it as a glorified deposition.

A jury trial is usually a better venue for a defendant. It is better to be tried by twelve, than by one person. Judges are human beings. Judges bring their own biases to the case. A jury trial where twelve people must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of your guilt is usually a better option, because a hung jury is basically a win for the Defense.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.