Potential Grounds for a Criminal Case Mistrial

A criminal case mistrial occurs when the case is terminated before it can reach its natural conclusion. Therefore, if your trial ends in a mistrial, it means that you have neither been found guilty nor acquitted. Several things can lead to a mistrial; here are four of them:

Incorrect Jury Selection

Selected jurors should be able to understand what is going on in the courtroom and deliver an impartial decision based on the court's proceedings. This is why there are legal requirements for jury selection. For example, every juror should be an English speaker, an American citizen, and of sound mind. Therefore, the court can order a mistrial if it realizes that one of these requirements wasn't met when selecting the jury. This may be the case, say, if the court (or defendant) realizes that one of the jurors has a mental condition that should have precluded them from jury duty.

Deadlocked Jury

A jury becomes deadlocked when, despite its best attempts, it is unable to come up with a verdict by the required margin. Of course, a mistrial isn't usually announced the first time a jury is unable to deliver a verdict; the first time it happens, the judge will give them more time to come up with a decision. A mistrial is only declared if it becomes clear that no amount of additional time will help the jury reach a verdict.

Lack of Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the court's legal authority to hear a case and determine a cause of actions. Courts usually have jurisdictions over specific people and cases as determined by law. For example, federal courts have the legal authority (jurisdiction) to hear specific cases as listed in the constitution and those determined by Congress. Therefore, if it's determined that a state court was hearing a case that belongs to the federal court system's jurisdiction, the judge in the state court will declare a mistrial.

Extraordinary Circumstance

Lastly, the judge may also order a mistrial due to an extraordinary circumstance that could not be foreseen. Examples of such extraordinary circumstances include death or illness of a juror or attorney.

A mistrial can either mean that your case is concluded or you need to be retried; it all depends on the cause of the mistrial. For example, a retrial may be barred if the court declared a mistrial without your consent. In some cases, it may also be in your best interest to request a mistrial. All these means that you need legal counsel from a criminal defense lawyer like Thomas A Corletta to help you navigate mistrial issues.