What is a trial?

Jury Trial North Carolina

A trial in the American system and, specifically, in North Carolina can be either a jury trial or a bench trial before a judge in which, in a criminal setting, the State of North Carolina or the Federal Government attempts to persuade the judge or jury that the Defendant is guilty of the crimes with which he or she has been charged.

What is the difference between a judge trial and a jury trial?

A judge trial (or bench trial) is a trial in which the judge makes all the determinations about the law, the guilt or innocence of the defendant, and the sentencing if the defendant has been found guilty. In the federal system, a defendant may choose a judge trial, or a jury trial. Most defendants choose jury trials.

In the state system in North Carolina, defendant may only have a bench trial for misdemeanors in District Court, but may appeal for a trial de novo if he is found guilty in District Court by a judge.

In Superior Court, a misdemeanor or felony may only be tried in front of a jury of twelve in North Carolina. This is a different practice than in other states, such as Florida, where juries of six are empaneled for less serious felonies.

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.