If your trial ends before the jury has reached a decision, this is considered a mistrial. There are multiple reasons that a mistrial can occur. This result is more favorable than a guilty verdict. However, after your case is declared a mistrial, your problems are not over.
You can be retried after a mistrial in New Jersey. In the case of a mistrial, the prosecution can choose to try your case again in front of a new jury, re-enter into plea negotiations, or drop the charges levied against you. Their decision may depend on the reason for your mistrial and the severity of the offenses you are facing.
If you have been accused of a crime in New Jersey, connect with our experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by calling (609) 616-4956.
Being Retried After a Mistrial in New Jersey
Some defendants mistakenly believe that mistrial declarations mark the end of their cases. However, you can be retried after a mistrial in New Jersey.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes the double jeopardy protection. This prevents defendants from being charged twice for the same crimes. Double jeopardy protection is a crucial aspect of our judicial system. However, it does not exist in the case of a mistrial.
Double jeopardy protection only applies if you have already been declared guilty or not guilty for the offense at issue. In the case of a mistrial, you can be retried because the verdict remains undetermined. Essentially, your entire case will start over again. This can be very discouraging if you were eagerly anticipating the conclusion of your case. However, having the opportunity to try your case again can provide multiple advantages. For example, after a mistrial is declared, our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys will have time to evaluate the strategies employed by the prosecutor and better prepare your defense. Furthermore, you may have more time to search for crucial evidence that supports your innocence.
If your case is overturned on appeal after a jury verdict was already reached, the appeals court will “vacate” the jury verdict. This effectively undoes the jury verdict as though it was never entered and avoids any double jeopardy issues, allowing the case to be retried in those situations as well.
Reasons that Mistrials Are Declared in New Jersey
There are multiple reasons that your case can be declared a mistrial. The likelihood that your case is retried may depend on which one of the following reasons applies:
The Jury Cannot Reach a Verdict
A “hung jury” is a jury that is unable to come to a collective decision regarding a defendant’s guilt. There are 12 jurors in every New Jersey criminal case. These jurors have to come to a unanimous decision in order for you to be convicted. If they cannot reach a decision, then your case may be declared a mistrial.
An Attorney Engaged in Professional Misconduct
A mistrial may also be declared because the prosecutor or defense attorney engaged in professional misconduct. There are several types of misconduct that may constitute grounds for a mistrial. For example, a lawyer may engage in professional misconduct by presenting improper evidence or by misleading the court as to how certain evidence was obtained. In addition to causing mistrials, lawyers who engage in such misconduct can lose their licenses.
Jurors Acted Inappropriately
Furthermore, a mistrial may happen because a juror acted inappropriately. There are certain rules that jurors must abide by. For instance, jurors should not discuss their cases with anyone outside of court. Jurors should also avoid obtaining new information about their cases from news media or other outside sources. If jurors engage in such behavior, then their cases may be declared mistrials.
A Key Participant is Unavailable
A mistrial may be declared because a key participant in your case is unavailable. If a juror, judge, attorney, or witness cannot participate in your case, then a mistrial may be unavoidable. For example, a crucial witness needed to support your defense may be unable to attend your trial because of a severe illness.
Finally, mistrials often happen because of evidentiary mistakes. For example, if it is discovered that the search warrant issued against you was obtained through improper means, then the prosecution’s case may be jeopardized. If any tainted evidence is admitted in your case, then a mistrial ruling may be issued.
When Will You Be Retried After a Mistrial in New Jersey?
After a mistrial is declared, there are multiple factors that the prosecution may analyze when determining if your case will be retried. However, the major factor will likely be the reason for your mistrial. For instance, if your mistrial occurred because of a hung jury, then it may be more likely that your case is refiled. The prosecution may be encouraged by the prospect of presenting their argument in front of new jury members. Meanwhile, if your mistrial occurred because of professional misconduct exhibited by the prosecution, then it may be less likely that you are retried.
Can You Request a Mistrial in New Jersey?
If you believe that your rights have been violated during your trial, then you may request that the charges levied against you are dismissed. However, you cannot specifically request a mistrial. A mistrial declaration typically must be declared by the judge. Alternatively, a mistrial may automatically happen because certain conditions are met.
Will a Mistrial Declaration Impact Your New Trial in New Jersey?
Your mistrial and second trial are unrelated in the eyes of the jury and judge. However, your second case can still be affected by a mistrial declaration. For instance, your case can be negatively impacted by giving the prosecution more time to assess their case and analyze different approaches. On the other hand, your case may be helped by allowing your attorneys more time to gather evidence and identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument. In any case, it is important to have experienced legal representation on your side so that your interests are protected.
Criminal Defendants in New Jersey Can Contact Our Attorneys for Help
If you were accused of a crime, seek guidance and support from our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by dialing (609) 616-4956 today.