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What Happens if There's a Hung Jury?

While some DUI cases in Orange County, California are dismissed, others achieve reduced charges through plea bargains. Some DUIs are tried in front of a judge and others are tried in front of a jury, especially when the state doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the defense counsel.

In many jury trials, every member standing on the jury must come to a unanimous decision on the guilt of the accused in order for them to be found guilty or innocent of a crime. A hung jury - or deadlocked jury - is a jury that is unable to agree on a verdict.

Prosecutors Don’t Like ‘Hung Juries’

A hung jury can be a dangerous thing for the prosecution in a case. The court will seek to elicit a response from the jury before accepting that they are too split to come to a uniform decision on how to proceed.

In the event of a hung jury, a judge will encourage the jury to continue their deliberations by providing some tips to help break a deadlock and come to an agreement. The judge will speak with the jurors to determine whether a verdict can be reached in a reasonable amount of time, or declare the entire trial to be a mistrial.

When a Hung Jury Leads To a Mistrial

If a judge declares a mistrial, it will be as if the trial never happened. It is still unlikely that the prosecution will accept that the trial was inconclusive, so a mistrial does not immediately mean that the case will be dismissed and the defendant can walk away.

A mistrial may mean that:

  • The prosecution can retry the case with a different jury
  • The case will be completely dismissed
  • A plea bargain will be offered to avoid further court time

A hung jury means that the prosecution was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt - in the eyes of the jury - that a driver was intoxicated when they were behind the wheel. When a mistrial is declared, it provides an opportunity for any charges the defendant may have been facing to be reduced or even eliminated.

At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., our attorneys work closely with clients to explain their options and provide advice on whether or not a case should be taken to trial.

If you have questions about a DUI arrest and your defense, contact our Orange County DUI defense firm for a free case evaluation.