Hung Jury: What Is It and What Happens Next?
Criminal defendants have the right to have their criminal cases heard by a jury. According to Kentucky Statutes 29A.270, criminal defendants in Kentucky have a right to a jury trial in all criminal prosecutions. According to the law, a criminal defendant can request a jury trial at any time prior to the time their case is called for trial. In Kentucky, juries hear all types of criminal offenses, including DUI cases, drug cases, and weapons charges.
Jury members listen to the evidence and then deliberate in secret. After deliberations, jurors vote on whether they believe the defendant is guilty or innocent. Most states in the U.S. require a unanimous jury decision for verdicts. In other words, most states require that all jurors agree that the defendant is guilty/not guilty before a guilty/not guilty verdict can be passed. According to Kentucky Statutes 29A.280, a unanimous verdict is required in all criminal cases in Kentucky. If, for example, the majority of the jury members believe that the defendant is guilty, but one believes otherwise, the defendant cannot be declared guilty. In such a case, the jury is said to be a “hung jury” or a “dreadlocked jury.”
What Happens if There Is a Hung Jury?
First, it is crucial to state that it is usually up to the judge to decide whether there is a hung or dreadlocked jury. After a judge determines that there is a hung or dreadlocked jury and that it is absolutely necessary, a mistrial is declared. A mistrial returns things to how they were before the trial began. So after a mistrial is declared, the prosecution can try the case again or dismiss the case. Also, the parties may choose to negotiate a plea deal. Often, hung juries result in the case being retried.
Retrying the Case
If a criminal case is retried, a new jury is selected before the trial starts again.
Note: After a hung jury, there may be strengths and weaknesses for both the prosecution and defense to exploit during the new trial.
Negotiating a Plea Deal
A defendant may not want to risk that another jury will declare them guilty. Also, the prosecution may not want to risk another jury not being able to reach a unanimous decision. In such a case, the prosecution and defense may decide to negotiate a plea deal.
Dismissing the Case
If, for example, the prosecution believes it cannot win the case if it goes back to trial, it can decide to dismiss it.
Isn’t It Double Jeopardy To Retry a Case After a Mistrial?
The Double Jeopardy Clause found in the United States Constitution states that criminal defendants cannot be prosecuted more than once for the same offense. However, when a mistrial is declared because of a hung jury, double jeopardy does not apply.
However, it is crucial to note that there are times when double jeopardy will apply after a mistrial, and the prosecution will be barred from retrying the case. For example, if a mistrial is declared because of prosecutorial misconduct, the prosecution may not be allowed to retry the case.
Contact a London Criminal Defense Attorney
If you need help with your criminal case, contact a qualified London criminal defense attorney at Cessna & George Law Firm.