Can You Choose Not to Have a Jury Trial?

By Brett Snider, Esq.

Americans have the right to a jury trial when accused of serious offenses under the Sixth Amendment, but can you choose to waive those rights?

A jury of your peers can be between six and a dozen persons with no guarantee of legal background, while a trial by judge places your fate in the hands of one legally accomplished individual.

So when do you get the choice not to have a jury trial, and why would you choose to forgo one?

Guaranteed Jury Trial for ‘Serious’ Offenses

Your right to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution applies to “serious” and not petty offenses. For many misdemeanors and infractions, defendants may not have an option to have their cases heard by a jury, so a judge is often the only option.

Most courts have settled that a jury trial must be an option for any offense for which the penalty involves six months of imprisonment or more. However, each state may allow defendants additional rights to a jury trial which is not secured …read more

Source:: Law Blog