Mistrial Declared in Cosby’s Sexual Assault Case Due to Jury Deadlock
Actor/comedian Bill Cosby walked out of court recently a free man, at least for now. Over the past few weeks the entire country has been following Cosby’s sexual assault trial with bated breath to see whether or not a jury of his peers would find the celebrity guilty of aggravated indecent assault. The high-profile case came to a (likely temporary) close last week when Judge Steven O’Neill declared that after six days of deliberations the jury was hopelessly deadlocked and that he was therefore declaring a mistrial, reports CNN. While Cosby’s defense team is rallying around the mistrial pronouncement, the prosecution was quick to announce that they intend to retry the case.
All of this has left many Americans dazed and confused in a sea of legal jargon and confusing criminal procedures. What is a jury deadlock? What is a mistrial? Is the case over or not? In order to shed some light on this case these questions are briefly answered below.
What is a Jury Deadlock?
A jury deadlock (also referred to as a hung jury) occurs when the jury, despite making an honest attempt, is unable to reach a verdict by the required voting margin. In other words, a jury is deadlocked when they are not able to come to a final decision and the judge is therefore required to order a mistrial. In the Cosby case, the jury was attempting to resolve a criminal manner so they were asked to determine whether or not Cosby was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on each charge brought against him. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard of proof that American courts use in criminal cases, whereas American juries sitting on civil trials must generally use a lower standard of proof (typically the “preponderance of the evidence” standard). It is important to note that the number of jurors required to agree on a verdict varies between federal and state courts. For example, in a federal criminal case a verdict must be reached by a unanimous vote, however, states have the authority to decide whether or not to require a unanimous vote in criminal cases. Pennsylvania, the state in which Cosby’s trial took place, requires criminal juries to reach a unanimous verdict.
What is a Mistrial?
Because the Cosby jury reached a deadlock the presiding judge ordered a mistrial. A mistrial can be ordered for several different reasons (for example, incorrect jury selection or lack of jurisdiction) and essentially renders the case invalid. In a criminal case this does not mean that the defendant has been found “guilty” or “not guilty”. It simply means that the trial is null. After a mistrial is declared in a criminal case the case will be tried again unless the prosecution chooses to dismiss the charges or the defendant accepts a plea bargain.
Contact a Local Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a crime in Florida, or fear that you may soon be, consult with a local criminal defense lawyer without delay. The sooner you have a competent attorney working on your defense the better so contact the Mander Law Group today. Our experienced team of criminal defense lawyers handle a wide variety of criminal cases and would be happy to assist you. To see if our firm is a good fit for you schedule a free initial consultation with our Dade City office right now by calling (800) 557-0411.