Mistrials in Criminal Cases

The rapper, YNW Melly, has certainly been in the news for more than his lyrics or albums. Recently, the rapper was on jury trial for a double murder in Broward County, Florida. The jury deliberated for three days but could not come to a unanimous decision and the case was declared a mistrial. YNW Melly was not convicted of any crime, but he also was not acquitted of any crime. A mistrial, in a felony or misdemeanor case, is not unique to Florida. It can happen anywhere, including California. A mistrial happens when a jury does not unanimously agree that the defendant is guilty. The inability for a jury to unanimously decide whether a defendant is guilty of the alleged crime(s) is but one way in which a mistrial can be ordered.

What Are Grounds for Mistrial?

In California, misconduct by counsel is one of the ways in which a mistrial can be granted. In such an instance, there would need to be irreparable prejudice. Misconduct by counsel can include, but is not limited to, making untrue inflammatory statements or disparagement of one of the parties. Such actions would tend to wrongly influence the jury and could tend to lead to that jury to decide whether a defendant is guilty not on the merits of the case and the facts in evidence before them, but rather on the out-of-bounds comments by counsel. In California, for such actions to rise to the level of being grounds for a mistrial, the comments or statements by counsel must be more than prejudicial. The prejudice resulting from the comments must be irreparable.

Another ground for mistrial in California is an irregularity in the trial. For instance, if the presiding judge or juror is called as a witness. Perhaps the juror witnessed something in the courtroom halls or overheard a conversation in which another witness may have said something about their testimony or the overall case.

What Happens After a Mistrial is Ordered?

Although a mistrial was declared in the YNW Melly case, that does not necessarily mean that the rapper will walk away. In California, when the defendant moves for a mistrial, the defendant waives any claim that jeopardy has attached. Meaning, if the matter is tried again, then it would not constitute double jeopardy and the prosecution could continue. As such, moving for a mistrial can be a strategic decision and the pros and cons should be weighed. However, if it can be shown that the prosecution intentionally caused the mistrial, then jeopardy may attach, and a retrial would be barred.

In fact, in the YNW Melly case, YNW Melly will have to return to court to face the murder charges once again. A new trial will happen with a new jury and that new jury will need to decide whether he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you or a family member has a minor who has been charged with a crime and is facing jury trial on a felony or misdemeanor charge or charges out of Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or Ventura County, it is imperative that you hire the best attorney that you can to explore all options available and to be prepared to make tough strategic decisions. Attorney Michael Kraut has extensive experience defending clients in criminal cases and trying their cases in front of a jury.

For more information about the criminal process, and to schedule your free consultation, contact attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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