A Strong Defense Is Based On Knowledge And Experience

Bench trial vs. jury trial: what’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

If you want to the fight the criminal charges that have been levied against you, then you might think that your case is headed for a jury trial. After all, this is what most people think of when they consider what going forward with trial will look like. While you certainly have the right to have your case tried to a jury of your peers, that may not be your only and best option.

Considering a bench trial

Although you can always choose to have your case tried to a jury, you also have the option of having your case heard and decided by a judge alone. This is known as a bench trial. Many people avoid this option because the judge is seen as part of the system and someone who would be hard to persuade.

Yet, there are times when a bench trial might be the best option. This is especially true when your criminal defense focuses on legal questions rather than factual ones.

For example, if your case is going to hinge on whether the action in question meets the legal definition of an element of a criminal offense, such as whether you had “possession” of a drug, then you might be better off having the matter heard by a judge who understands the intricacies of legal definitions and elements of criminal offenses. After all, judges are experts in the criminal law, and they’re tasked with being unbiased when making decisions based on the law.

What legal strategy is best for you?

The course your case takes really depends on the circumstances and what you think is right for you. That said, we know it can be hard to make that determination, especially if this is your first time being charged with a criminal offense.

That’s why as you try to figure out your best path forward, you may want to read up on criminal defense strategies as much as possible. Hopefully then you can make the fully informed decision that’s right for you.