The US Constitution recognizes and protects the right of every citizen to a jury trial (Art III, Sec. 2, and the Sixth Amendment). But, you can also waive your right for a jury trial if you prefer a bench trial, where only the judge decides on the verdict.
In general, people would not want to waive their right to have a jury trial. But, there may be cases when that will be the best option to take.
According to the courts, any person can waive his or her right to a trial by jury in a voluntary and intelligent manner. A conviction will discarded if it is shown that a defendant was not informed clearly of the difference between a jury and bench trial.
Thus, you must show the court that you are aware of the implications of your actions if you are waiving your right to a trial by jury. For instance, you may need to confirm your understanding that a jury will be composed of a dozen people from your community.
You may also need to confirm that you understand your right (through your lawyer) to participate in selecting the members of the jury, and that all the jurors must be unanimous in convicting you for the crime. If you waive your right, the decision on your innocence or guilt will be in the hands of the judge.
Once you convince the court that you have full understanding of what you’re doing, it will be then be up to the prosecutor to agree to have a bench trial instead.
There are various reasons you may consider waiving your right to be tried by a jury of your peers. Some wish to waive the jury trial because they believe that the jury will most likely not be sympathetic or compassionate; some believe the judge will follow the law more closely and not be swayed by emotion and then some just feel uncomfortable with a jury. Whatever the reason, this should be fully discussed with the attorney before you decide whether to waive the right to a jury trial.
As mentioned, the court will only allow you to waive your right in a voluntary and intelligent manner. Likewise, the court will show that you have been well-informed about the differences between a bench trial and jury trial. The prosecutor must also agree. If he disagrees, the trial by jury will proceed, as the State has the same right to a jury trial as the defendant.
When considering waiving a jury trial for your criminal case in Arizona, contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney At Law to help you plan your next move. Coming up with a sound strategy is perhaps the hardest part of defending a criminal case. After all, your freedom and reputation are at stake. Having an experienced and reputable lawyer by your side can help you achieve the best possible outcome.