The criminal trial process can be confusing to those who are not familiar with it. From the preliminary hearing to pretrial activities to the trial itself, the whole undertaking can be utterly overwhelming. Fortunately, anyone accused of a crime in New York or anywhere else in the nation is entitled to have an attorney by their side, presenting their case and defending their innocence.
One part of some criminal trials that may be extra-confusing is a mistrial. After all, to make it all the trial process only to have the trial terminated and declared void may be unexpected. When exactly would a mistrial occur?
A mistrial could occur for a number of reasons. For example, a mistrial could occur if one of the attorneys or one of the jurors passes away before the trial is complete. A mistrial could also occur if it is discovered that some sort of impropriety occurred when the jury was formed. Also, if there was some sort of fundamental error that was prejudicial to the accused and could not be fixed via jury instruction, such as the prosecution’s closing argument made highly improper statements, this could also result in a mistrial.
Juror misconduct could also result in a mistrial. Juror misconduct includes having contact with one of the parties, independently investigating the case or considering evidence that was not put forth in the trial. Finally, a mistrial could occur if the jury was hopelessly deadlocked and unable to render a verdict.
Either the prosecution or the defense could move for a mistrial. If a mistrial occurs it is possible that a retrial will not be allowed, although in some very certain circumstances a retrial can occur. Those who have questions about whether or not a retrial will occur after a mistrial is declared may need to seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney. Taking such a step helps protect a defendants rights while also opening up the opportunity to have charges reduced or dismissed.
Source: American Bar Association, How Courts Work