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The Criminal Jury Trial

Many lawyers look at every case as a reason to plead guilty. We don't. Instead we look for ways to win at trial.

From the moment we are hired on a criminal case, we are preparing for a jury trial. It is investigation, research, and preparation for trial that put the client in the best position to get his or her case dismissed, or if we cannot achieve that, to get the best  possible plea offer from the government.

But the best possible offer from the government is often not good enough. That's why we have jury trials. Because the system should not limit you to what you can beg out of the government.

And your lawyer should not either. If the government knows that you won't try your case, they've got no motivation to dismiss your case or offer you a better deal. If you hire a lawyer who doesn't want to, is afraid to, or otherwise cannot try your case to a jury, you are depriving yourself of your most important bargaining point in negotiations with the government.

The jury trial is a dying art, and trial lawyers are on their way to extinction. In federal court, the consequences of losing at trial are often much more severe than the consequences of pleading guilty; few defendants are willing to brave these odds, and fewer lawyers.

In state court, processes like pretrial intervention in misdemeanor cases are decreasing the number of cases that are worth trying—if you can get a dismissal by just taking some classes, why go to trial?—and depriving young lawyers of this arena in which they can learn to try cases with nothing to lose.

Jury trials should not be the exception, they should be the rule. The U.S. Constitution does not protect your right to plead guilty, but it protects your right to a jury trial. The vanishing jury trial is a terrible thing for our society.

But we will do our best to keep holding the line.

From jury selection to jury instructions, Mark has over a quarter-century of experience defending people in jury trials, and teaching other criminal-defense lawyers how to try cases to juries better.

If you need an experienced trial lawyer in your corner, give us a call.

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