Should You Request a Jury Trial in Your Kansas Criminal Case?
In Kansas, you have the right to a trial by a jury of your peers. This is a fundamental right that is intended to ensure fairness in the judicial process and that is supposed to ensure that biases do not lead to a wrongful conviction. So, should you exercise your right to a jury trial? As Johnson County criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill explains, it depends.
Why Might You Want to Request a Jury Trial in Kansas?
Requesting a jury trial in your criminal case can afford several benefits. Some of the main benefits of requesting a jury trial include:
- As a defendant, you have a say in who is on your jury. During the jury selection (or “voir dire”) process, both the prosecution and the defense have the opportunity to strike potential jurors who they do not want hearing the case. This includes striking some jurors for cause and striking others for any reason or no reason at all (called a “peremptory challenge”).
- The jury must reach a unanimous verdict in order to convict. When you request a jury trial, the jurors must reach a unanimous decision in order to return a guilty verdict. If they cannot reach a unanimous decision, then the judge will be forced to declare a mistrial.
- Requesting a jury trial provides more grounds for filing an appeal. Requesting a jury trial adds more steps to the process; and, as a result, it affords more potential opportunities to file an appeal. For example, you may be able to object to improprieties in the jury selection process; or, if you file a motion for acquittal and it gets denied, you may be able to challenge the judge’s decision to allow your case to go to the jury for deliberations.
Why Might You Not Want to Request a Jury Trial in Kansas?
In certain circumstances, requesting a jury trial may not be your best option. Some examples of reasons why you might not want to request a jury trial include:
- Some jurors may be biased. If there is a risk that juror bias could lead to a wrongful conviction, then you might be better off having your case tried by a judge.
- A judge will only consider the merits of your case. Unlike jurors, who are more likely to let improper considerations influence their decision-making, a judge will only consider the merits of your case.
- A judge might be better suited to resolve complicated issues. If the factual or legal issues involved in your case are particularly complex, then you might want to leave the outcome in the hands of a judge who will be better able to make a sound decision.
Discuss Your case with Johnson County Criminal Defense Attorney Jerry Merrill
Should you request a jury trial? To find out, schedule a free case evaluation with Johnson County criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill. You can reach us 24/7, so call 913-381-2085 or tell us how we can reach you online now.