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What is a Mistrial?

what is a mistrial

Legal proceedings with no legal effect for one or more charges brought against the defendant because of gross error or prejudicial misconduct are called a Mistrial.

A Mistrial is a trial declared void before a judge or jury reaches a judgment. If a mistrial occurs, the previous proceedings become invalid. Generally, prior testimony or findings presented in a previous evaluation are not considered during a new evaluation. Thus it can be said that the new trial always starts from scratch.

Any party (i.e., prosecution or defense) may file a motion for a mistrial during the trial. And, when a judge receives a motion for a mistrial, he or she has the right to either grant the motion and stop the trial or deny the motion and allow the trial to continue.

It is important to note that just because a defendant is not convicted of mistrial does not mean they are forgiven. A defendant is acquitted only when a judge or jury returns a verdict of not guilty.

Reason for mistrial

After carefully monitoring the overall situation, your attorney may request a statement for a mistrial if any of the following condition occurs:

  1.  Some process errors occurred.
  2. Witnesses were not considered at all.
  3. The jury declared a deadlock.
  4. The jury was biased
  5. Failure to complete the exam within the prescribed period

The most common cause of a mistrial is simple – the jury fails to reach a statement. Virtually all criminal cases require a unanimous vote either way. If the jurors cannot agree, the result is called an “unbalanced jury,” and the consequence is a mistrial.

When a jury impanels, the judge can ask the jurors to reconvene and see if they can agree on a verdict. These may work if you have a similar situation like the one famously immortalized in the film Twelve Angry Men – or less famously in the episodes of the TV police drama series Monk.

It is worth noting that there is no time limit on how long the jury can deliberate. When the jury foreman returns and reports that there is no unanimous vote, it is highly likely that the jury is close to an even split (6 to 6) with no realistic hope of unanimity.


Judge rights to declare a mistrial

A Mistrial may be declared for many reasons, and the most common one for a judge is due to a hung jury. A “hung jury” is when the jury is deadlocked after lengthy deliberations and cannot reach a unanimous decision on the defendant’s guilt or innocence.

Mistrials can also occur when there has been substantial damage to the rights of the accused to have a fair trial. Reasons may include:

  1. Violation of rules, such as failure of the prosecutor to turn over evidence to the other side;
  2. A witness who makes an inadmissible statement;
  3. Juror misconduct, such as visiting a crime scene, investigating a case, or drinking;
  4. Extraordinary circumstances, such as the death of a lawyer or judge;
  5. A fundamental mistrial that causes damage (unfairly) to the defendant cannot be corrected or overcome by a jury instruction.
  6. The prosecution or defense can make a motion for a mistrial either a judge may declare one of one’s initiative or sua sponte. If the judge denies the Motion of one of the parties to a wrong, the trial continues.

What happens after the declaration of a Mistrial?

Mistrials can be relatively sensitive for the parties included in the case. When a trial begins, people expect there to be some resolution at the end. But, a mistrial temporarily leaves the proceeding until a decision is made about how and when to move forward. 

Depending on the mistrial, most prosecutions shall get repeated, which can benefit the defense. Because prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, a mistrial could prompt prosecutors to reconsider their case based on what they saw from the hand of the defense. Some prosecutions are resolved by lawsuit negotiation for a lower fee or even dismissal.


Is a mistrial worth it or not?

A second trial is good for an accused because it allows him to prepare for the next one to prove his innocence. As the mistrial and hung jury retire with the premise of innocence, it is favorable for the defendant. 

A mistrial will help you get more information about prosecution evidence. A mistrial or second attempt helps you to get an idea of how you are doing so the prosecution can present the case accordingly next time.

Reasons for mistrial in civil matters

A mistrial may be declared on a motion of any party or the ex officio duty of a court if a deadlocked jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict or when otherwise clearly necessary made it impossible to proceed by the law.

A mistrial in civil matters may also get declared if the error, defect, or misconduct is caused by material things and irreparable harm to the defendant’s right to a fair and impartial trial.

The state is entitled to a mistrial based on prejudice, but only if it is caused by a juror, a defendant, a defense attorney, or a person acting at the behest of the defense.

A mistrial is a drastic remedy. A lesser measure such as correcting a mistake and issuing cautionary instructions to the jury is usually sufficient to resolve the issue.


Reasons for a mistrial in criminal cases

Other than a blind jury, a judge may declare a mistrial in criminal cases for many more reasons, including lack of jurisdiction, improper jury selection, or deadlock. A mistrial in criminal cases may also be caused by unusual circumstances, such as the death or illness of a crucial lawyer or juror.

Conclusion

A mistrial is a deficient trial. However, it is suspended and declared invalid before a decision is made. Mistrial in law occurs when a judicial process is set aside the judgment.

To summarise, a mistrial is a trial closed by a judge because of no final decision or because of law mistakes that make a fair trial impossible. When a trial ends, the previous proceedings are termed null and void.

FAQs

What are the grounds for a Mistrial?

Several grounds for mistrial one include where a judge can declare for various reasons like a deadlock, lack of jurisdiction, etc. A mistrial is also caused by unpredictable and unusual circumstances, such as the death or illness of a juror or lawyer.

Is it possible to retry someone after a mistrial?

In the US, it is typically permitted, but on the condition, that mistrial occurred due to a hung jury.

What is the purpose of a Mistrial?

A mistrial is a way by which a trial can be stopped if something happens that seems to prevent a fair verdict. For example, if the jurors are prejudicial, a mistrial is called to allow for a new trial with appropriate jurors.

What happens if there is a mistrial due to a hung jury?

After a mistrial due to a hung jury, the prosecutor can consider how to proceed. In some cases, the prosecutors dismiss the charges levied against the defendant, while in other cases, a plea bargain is reached after a mistrial is declared. If neither of these things occurs, the mistrial will lead to the defendant being tried on all of the same charges in another trial to be held later.