What is a mistrial? It isn’t an acquittal. It isn’t a dismissal. And it isn’t a conviction. So what is it? A mistrial is a trial that has been terminated prior to its normal conclusion. A mistrial has no legal effect and is considered an invalid trial; it differs from a “new trial,” which recognizes that a trial was completed but was set aside so that the issues could be tried again.
A judge may declare a mistrial for several reasons, including – but perhaps not limited to – lack of jurisdiction, incorrect jury selection, or a deadlocked, or hung jury. Among other things, a mistrial may also result from a fundamental error so prejudicial to the defendant that it cannot be cured by appropriate instructions to the jury, such as improper remarks made during the prosecution’s summation. In determining whether to declare a mistrial, a judge must decide whether the error is so prejudicial and fundamental that expenditure of further time and expense would be wasteful, if not futile.
Typically, there is no bar to a retrial if the defendant requests or consents to a mistrial. A retrial may be barred if the court grants a mistrial without the defendant’s consent, or over his objection. If the mistrial results from judicial or prosecutorial misconduct, a retrial will be barred.
A recent example of a mistrial involved the DUI prosecution of Denver Broncos football player D.J. Williams. In that case Williams’ attorney objected to how jurors were selected. Williams’ attorney asked for the mistrial just before opening statements were about to begin. He claimed that he was only able to excuse two jurors instead of the three he was entitled to during jury selection. The judge granted Williams’ attorney’s request over the objection of the prosecutor. The Denver District Attorney’s Office position was that attorneys do not have to use all of their rights to excuse jurors (called preemptory challenges); each side had an opportunity to excuse a potential juror and not give a reason. The prosecutor claimed that Williams’ attorney passed on one of his opportunities to excuse a juror. Notwithstanding the prosecutor’s position, the judge ordered a mistrial and reset the DUI trial for August 15, 2012.
Retaining a savvy DUI attorney can make all the difference in the world in obtaining the best result possible in a DUI case. Because of the significant implications a DUI arrest and/or conviction can have, it is imperative that a person charged with DUI retain a qualified Seattle DUI attorney or a qualified Bellevue DUI lawyer in order to best minimize potential legal consequences and protect their rights and interests. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle DUI lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those charged with DUI in Western Washington. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the DUI allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.
If you or a loved one is cited for, or charged with, DUI in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Thurston County or one of the following cities or towns: Algona, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Edmonds, Enumclaw, Everett, Federal Way, fife, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Marysville, Medina, Mercer Island, Milton, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, New Castle, Normandy Park, North Bend, Olympia, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Sea Tac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snohomish, Sumner, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, and/or Woodinville, or any other city or town in Western Washington, call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900 for an initial free consultation.