What’s the difference between a jury trial and a bench trial?

If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s vital to understand your rights. As a defendant, the New Jersey court system must give you the option between a jury trial or a bench trial. This is a significant decision that can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Most defendants make the mistake of assuming all criminal trials are held before a jury. This is because trials are depicted on TV and in the media as such. However, it’s possible to have a trial where the judge solely evaluates your case and determines which party wins. That said, it’s crucial to understand why you would want to choose one over the other. Please continue reading to learn the differences between a jury trial and a bench trial and how a seasoned Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney can help you navigate your options today. 

What is a jury trial?

In a trial by jury, twelve community members are carefully selected to listen to the facts of your case and determine your guilt. This jury of peers will decide if you’re guilty of the crime you’re accused of after hearing evidence and arguments presented by the prosecution and defense attorney. In a jury trial, the judge is only there to keep order. They don’t determine your guilt. Ultimately, the jury will gather and weigh the case’s evidence to render a verdict. There are various benefits to a jury trial.

Jury trials are often more thorough than bench trials. This is because multiple jurors must agree on the outcome of the case. Therefore, you have a better chance of convincing various people than one person that you’re not guilty. The decision must also be unanimous, ensuring both sides receive fair consideration.

What is a bench trial?

A bench trial, on the other hand, doesn’t involve a jury. Instead, the case will be presented to a judge, who will render the verdict of your guilt. A bench trial is often less time-consuming than a jury trial. This is because a jury trial has first to undergo a jury selection. Once the jurors have been selected, they must be informed of the rules and procedures they’ll face moving forward. A judge already clearly understands the rules of evidence and law and procedures. Therefore, this cuts down significant time.

As you can see, there are benefits to each type of trial. Understanding the critical differences between these two types of trials will help you decide which is suitable for your specific circumstances. If you’ve been arrested, please don’t hesitate to contact a skilled Bergen County criminal defense attorney, who can help shield you from your charges. At The Law Office of Carl Spector, we are prepared to help you avoid harsh penalties that can follow you throughout your lifetime.