What is a Mistrial?

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

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.

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