When we hear the word "criminal case," we often think of a courtroom drama where a jury of twelve people deliberate on the fate of the accused. However, not all criminal cases have juries.
Felony cases are the most severe crimes, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and arson. In felony cases, the defendant has the right to a trial by jury. However, in some cases, the defendant may waive their right to a jury trial and opt for a bench trial. A bench trial is where the judge decides the case's outcome based on the evidence presented in court. Felony cases tend to have juries, but the defendant can waive their right to a jury trial.
Misdemeanor cases are less severe crimes, such as minor drug offenses, shoplifting, and traffic violations. Defendants in misdemeanor cases do not have the right to a trial by jury. Instead, the case is decided by a single judge. However, in some states, a defendant may request a jury trial in a misdemeanor case. The judge will then decide whether or not to grant the request.
Juvenile cases involve minors who have been accused of committing a crime. In most states, the juvenile justice system is separate from the adult criminal justice system. Juvenile cases typically do not involve juries. Instead, a judge decides the claim based on the evidence presented. However, some states allow a jury trial in juvenile cases involving serious criminal charges.
Federal criminal cases involve crimes that violate federal law, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, and tax evasion. In federal criminal cases, the defendant has the right to a trial by jury. However, in some cases, the defendant may waive their right to a jury trial and opt for a bench trial. The decision to waive the right to a jury trial must be made voluntarily and after consultation with an attorney.
Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers
Navigating the criminal justice system can be overwhelming, but understanding the role of juries in criminal cases is essential. At Smith & Vinson Law Firm, we are dedicated to providing expert legal assistance to clients in Austin, TX, and ensuring their rights are protected throughout the legal process. If you require assistance with your criminal case, contact us today at (512) 359-3743 for a consultation.