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The Return of Jury Trials

Amid the ongoing (never-ending) COVID-19 Pandemic, it looks as though jury trials will not take place in criminal court until next year.

There are benefits and detriments to that, of course.

The one benefit - speaking purely from a criminal defense perspective - is that this is effectively a very long continuance.  In certain instances, extending the life of a criminal case may serve the interests of the accused.  For instance, the passage of time may cause witnesses to forget important details about your case.  It may cause the witnesses to forget about the case entirely, or even who they allegedly saw committing the crime.  

In domestic violence cases, the passage of time may allow for reconciliation between the parties.  The alleged victim may decide that he or she no longer wishes to prosecute the case.

As well, it certainly allows the defense plenty of time to prepare and negotiate a resolution.  Depositions are being held via the videoconferencing platform Zoom, and ordinary discovery can take place regardless of the fact that the physical courthouses are closed.

If your case is going to proceed to a jury trial, you will have to wait until at the earliest, January 2021.

Discuss with your criminal defense attorney whether a jury trial or a negotiated plea is the best resolution for your case.  It is critical that you understand how a jury trial works, and the risks and rewards associated with the decision to take your case to trial.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County.  Criminal cases in Lee County, Collier County, Monroe County, Martin County, Indian River County, St. Lucie County, Highlands County, Hendry County, and Okeechobee County may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Feel free to contact us to discuss your criminal case.

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