Do I have a right to a jury trial in my DUI case in New Jersey?

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In New Jersey, driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is one of the most serious driving infractions punishable by fines, license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device, jail time, and other harsh penalties. You have the right to a jury trial when facing criminal charges for a DUI offense. However, you also have an alternative option that depending on the specific circumstances of your case, could give you a better chance of winning your case. Sometimes, it is better to forgo the right to a jury trial to have a judge decide your case instead. If you have been charged with DUI, contact a talented Camden County DUI Attorney who can help you determine whether your particular case would have a better chance of a positive outcome with a jury or bench trial. Please continue reading to learn the differences between jury and bench trials. 

What are the differences between a jury trial and a bench trial in New Jersey?

A jury trial is a group of people called jurors who are summoned and sworn to decide on the facts at a trial to render a verdict of whether the defendant is guilty or not. With this type of trial, the jurors must reach a unanimous decision on guilt. However, in a bench trial, there is no jury. Instead, the judge is responsible for determining whether or not the defendant is guilty. Those facing criminal charges often don’t realize the significant differences between having their case argued in front of a judge rather than a jury.

Jury and bench trials differ in many ways, including the length of the trial. Typically, jury trials take long because of the time it takes to for jury selections, as each side gets to remove jurors they believe may have biases that could affect whether the defendant receives a fair trial. Alongside the time it takes to select unbiased jurors, once completed, the judge will have to explain the law to the jurors to ensure they know what is expected and required of them through the impending legal proceedings. Another significant difference is that with a jury trial, there is the possibility of a “hung jury.” As mentioned above, after hearing evidence and legal arguments, jurors must decide unanimously on the defendant’s guilt. The court will declare a mistrial if they cannot reach a unanimous decision. This means a hung jury can result in dismissed charges.

If you have been charged with DUI, it is in your best interest to retain the legal representation of a skilled attorney from Thomas DeMarco & Associates, LLC, who can help you determine whether your case has a better chance of reaching a favorable outcome with a jury or bench trial. Allow our firm to represent your interests in court today.

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