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Florida Drug Defense Attorney > Blog > Drug Crime Defense > Will Your Drug Case Have a Jury Trial?

Will Your Drug Case Have a Jury Trial?


If your civics class in high school was especially thorough, you might have learned about the ways that civil trials are different from criminal trials.  You may have learned that judges decide the outcome in a civil trial, but in a criminal trial, 12 jurors make the decision.  This is better than not knowing that trials without juries exist at all, but it is still an oversimplification.  Juries are sometimes present at civil trials, especially personal injury or medical malpractice cases where the plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries and is requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, or even more.  Likewise, bench trials, where there is no jury, are also a possibility in some criminal cases, including some cases involving drug crime charges.  To find out more about what happens next after you plead not guilty in a drug case, contact a Florida drug offenses attorney.

Minor Offenses Sometimes Have Bench Trials

Due process of law has different definitions depending on what is at stake.  If the court had to go through a full juror selection process for every traffic ticket, it would be a huge burden on the court system, costing a bundle of taxpayer money and adding a long wait time to everyone’s case.  Therefore, Florida law has construed the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial to apply only when incarceration is a possible penalty for the charge in question.  Therefore, civil infractions and misdemeanor cases when the worst-case scenario is probation, a fine, or community service do not guarantee the right to a jury trial.  If you are being accused of something that is just barely on the crime side of the dividing line between civil infractions and crimes, such as possession of slightly more weed than the legal limit, you will get a bench trial if you plead not guilty.

You Can Choose a Bench Trial When It Is in the Interest of Justice

Defendants in felony cases have the right to a trial by jury, but they can petition the court to have a bench trial instead, if there is a compelling reason for this.  The court cannot convict you unless all 12 jurors agree beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty, and your lawyer has a say in the jury selection process.  Therefore, none of the jurors who must decide about your guilt has a personal grudge or pre-existing bias against you.  Juries’ lack of background knowledge can be a double-edged sword.  Prosecutors take advantage of it in any way they can, presenting evidence that plays on the jurors’ emotions, vilifying the defendant and defense witnesses, and sometimes even explaining legal concepts in misleading ways.  If your defense strategy relies on a sophisticated understanding of the law or expert witnesses’ scientific interpretation of forensic evidence, you might feel that a judge is in a better position to focus on the arguments and legal issues instead of making a decision based on prosecutors’ showmanship.

Contact FL Drug Defense Group About Drug Cases

A Central Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you 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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