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Florida Drug Defense Attorney > Blog > Drug Crime Defense > A Question of Law or a Question of Fact?

A Question of Law or a Question of Fact?


The idea of letting 12 strangers decide whether or not you will go to jail is scary. It is especially scary when you consider that those 12 people are either so ignorant that they have never heard of the drug that you are being charged with possessing, so idle that they have nothing better to do than sit in a courtroom all day, or both.  This is part of the reason that so many defendants choose bench trials or plea deals over a trial by jury.  The right to a fair trial is about more than having your fate decided by people who are not technically your enemies, though.  The court must ensure that all aspects of your trial are fair, from the evidence that the jury sees to whether you face criminal charges in the first place.  In other words, judges in criminal trials do more than just hand down a sentence if the jury votes to convict the defendant; they must also make other decisions about how best to apply the law and the principles of justice.  For help persuading the judge about questions of law and the jury about questions of fact in your drug case, contact a Florida drug offenses attorney.

Some Questions Are for the Judge to Decide, While Others Are for the Jury

At a criminal trial, a jury may listen to days, or even weeks, of testimony, but in the end, they must only answer one question, namely, they must decide whether the defendant’s actions meet the definition of the crime of which the state is accusing the defendant.  If the defendant is facing more than one charge, the jury must reach a separate verdict about each charge.  Even if there is only one criminal charge in the case, it sometimes takes the jury multiple days to arrive at a unanimous decision, and sometimes they cannot unanimously agree at all, in which case the result is a mistrial.

All the other questions are questions of law, and the judge must decide these.  Examples of questions of law are whether a certain piece of evidence is admissible in court and whether the state has a valid reason to pursue criminal charges against the defendant at all.  Pretrial motions in criminal cases relate to questions of law, and judges sometimes decide on questions of law during the trial, such as when one of the lawyers objects to a question that the other side asks to a witness during cross examination.  Juries do not have the right to decide questions of law, just as judges do not have the right to decide questions of fact.  In practice, it is almost impossible to know whether jurors discuss questions of fact in the jury room, because jury deliberations are confidential.

Contact FL Drug Defense Group About Drug Cases

A Central Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you prevail at trial if you are planning to plead not guilty in your drug case.  Contact FL Drug Defense Group in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.



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