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What Causes a Mistrial in an Illinois Criminal Case?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

elgin defense lawyerWhen a person is charged with a crime, there are certain legal steps in the Illinois criminal justice system they must go through. One of those steps is a trial. The trial will determine whether the person is guilty of the charges they are accused of committing.

Most trials are jury trials. This is our right under the Sixth Amendment, which says that an accused has a right to an impartial jury. Typically, the jury is made up of 12 members. In order for there to be a verdict, the jury must vote unanimously either way, guilty or not guilty. It is not a majority vote.

In some cases, there is no conclusion to the trial, and the judge will declare a mistrial. The following are some of the common reasons why this might happen.

What Is a Mistrial?

According to the American Bar Association, a mistrial is a trial that is not successfully concluded. Due to certain circumstances, the trial is stopped, and the judge declares the proceedings void. The declaration of a mistrial must occur before a verdict is reached in the case, whether that verdict is via a jury or a judge. Once a verdict has been reached, there can be no declaration of a mistrial.

The request for a mistrial can come from either the defense attorney representing the accused or from the prosecutor. If the judge agrees that the party requesting the mistrial has cited valid reasons, he or she will grant the request. If the judge denies the request, the trial will proceed.

Reasons for a Mistrial

There are a number of reasons why a mistrial may be declared. One of the most common reasons is that the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict. This is usually referred to as a hung jury.

Other common reasons why a judge will grant a mistrial includes:

  • After the trial has begun, it is revealed that there was something improper during jury selection, such as a member of the jury failing to disclose a conflict of interest they have in the case.

  • It is learned that a jury member has failed to follow the court’s instructions, such as reading or watching media reports while the trial is going on or discussing the case with other jury members before jury deliberations have begun.

  • A prejudicial error that would not be rectified during jury instructions, such as the introduction of evidence to the case that was improper.

  • The death of a jury member or an attorney involved in the case.

  • Attorney misconduct, either on the part of the prosecution or the defense.

If a judge does declare a mistrial, there are three options the prosecutor has:

  • Schedule a new trial based on the same charges with a new jury.

  • Dismiss the charges and close the case.

  • Work out a plea bargain agreement with the accused.

Contact a Kane County Defense Lawyer for Legal Assistance

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, it is important to have a skilled Elgin, IL defense attorney advocating for you against these charges and ensuring all of our rights are being protected. Call The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today at 847-488-0889 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution-conan/amendment-6/right-to-trial-by-impartial-jury

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/mistrials/

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Avvo Illinois State Bar Association Kane COunty Bar Association
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