If you’re charged with any serious crime in the greater Seattle area, you should retain at once the advice and services of an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney. In the state of Washington, like every other state, most defendants charged with a crime never actually have their case heard by a jury. Instead, most criminal cases are concluded when the defense and the prosecution agree to a plea bargain. In a typical plea bargain, a defendant agrees to plead guilty to one or more charges. The prosecution’s part of the “deal” is to drop or reduce any remaining charges or to recommend a reduced sentence to the judge. For example, in many states, a first-time DUI charge can be “pled down” to a reckless driving charge. The defendant accepts the penalty for a reckless driving conviction and avoids the harsher penalties that come with a DUI conviction.
If you are charged with a crime and a plea bargain isn’t offered, or if you believe that you are innocent and you have no desire to “bargain,” your case may be one of the few cases that are actually heard by juries. Jury trials end with convictions, acquittals, or with “hung” juries when jurors cannot agree on guilt or innocence. Judges typically ask hung juries to continue deliberations until they are certain they cannot reach a verdict. Juries have no time limit, and deliberations can continue for as long as a judge believes those deliberations are making progress. When a judge finally decides that a jury cannot reach a verdict, the judge may choose to declare a mistrial.
Subsequent to a mistrial, the state may choose to retry the case or to drop the charges. Before a retrial, the state may provide the defendant with a final plea bargain offer. If you’ve been charged with a crime, a mistrial is actually a good outcome. It means that the prosecutor could not persuade some of your peers on the jury that you are guilty as charged, and the prosecutor may determine that the charge against you simply cannot be proven. If you’re charged with DUI or any other serious crime – in the Seattle area or elsewhere in the state of Washington – take your case immediately to an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney.