Any case that goes to trial in front of a jury carries the possibility of a mistrial. A judge must declare a mistrial when the jury for a criminal trial cannot agree to a verdict. Such an occurrence can have benefits for the defendant, although there is always the chance that the case will be retried at a later date. There are two ways a mistrial can occur depending on the nature of the offense, which influences the size of the jury. If you face felony criminal charges, you may face a jury of six or twelve jurors. The number of jurors who must agree that you are guilty of the offense determines whether a mistrial will take place.
Twelve-Person Jury Mistrial
A crime that carries a sentence of required jail or prison time for anyone who is convicted will prompt a twelve-person jury. An example of such a crime in Louisiana is armed robbery. In Louisiana, armed robbery carries a prison sentence of 10 to 99 years. For you to be convicted of a crime like armed robbery, a minimum of ten jurors must agree to your guilt. A mistrial is declared when nine or more jurors disagree with the other jurors. Although there is no set time limit for deliberations, if the jury is adamant that they cannot reach a verdict, the state may retry your case or dismiss charges.
Six-Person Jury Mistrial
A crime such as simple robbery in Louisiana may demand a sentence of 0-7 years “with or without hard labor.” This means that jail or prison time is not mandatory, which in turn means that the jury for such a case will consist of just six jurors. When there are only six jurors available to reach a verdict, all six must agree to the defendant’s guilt. If just one juror finds the defendant not guilty of the offense, the judge declares a mistrial.
Potential Benefits of a Louisiana Mistrial
A mistrial can be advantageous in the long run for two main reasons: first, the State may decide against retrying the case and could instead dismiss the charges altogether. Second, if the State does decide to pursue the charges once more, the defendant’s defense attorney will have gained insight into the prosecution’s case, allowing the attorney to further strengthen the defense’s case.
Although a mistrial is certainly better than a guilty verdict, you do run the risk of a conviction on the second round if the State does decide to pursue it; however, often the prosecutor realizes that the chance of obtaining a conviction at the second trial is generally slim. Many times the charges are simply dismissed.
To obtain the best possible outcome from a criminal case, it’s vital to secure an experienced Louisiana defense attorney. Eric Johnson of The John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, LLC, has over two decades of experience providing legal counsel for those accused of misdemeanor and felony crimes throughout the state. Call 318-479-0562 or contact us online for a free consultation.