By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
A mistrial is a declaration the judge makes to immediately halt and end a trial in progress. Normally a mistrial is declared when a circumstance arises that taints the process beyond repair. In certain situations, a mistrial can also result in an acquittal of a criminal defendant, but most merely result in the case being reset to a new trial status as if the mistrial had never taken place.
The circumstances which could cause a mistrial are seemingly endless. More common reasons for mistrials are hung juries (meaning the jury couldn’t decide a case unanimously after a lengthy deliberation), or what is known as a “busted panel” which means after jury selection there were not enough qualified jurors to form a complete jury. Other common reasons are improper arguments by a party, unexpected or improper comments from a witness, and on some occasions juror misconduct.
A judge has wide discretion to declare a mistrial. When a mistrial is declared it normally means the case starts anew and typically goes back to trial. If the State intentionally causes a mistrial it can lead to a dismissal in some instances.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is licensed to practice in Texas and is Board Certified in Criminal Law. Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice.