Criminal Law Trials
Mistrial is declared in criminal law trials when a case is dismissed prior to its normal conclusion. A mistrial has no legal force and is considered null. The judge usually awards a retrial on the same subject, with an important exception in the United States: the provision of double jeopardy in the Fifth Amendment prohibits retrial for the same offense if a mistrial is declared erroneously, if mistrial is declared against the defendant’s wishes, or if it is declared because of prosecutorial or judicial misconduct.
The most common event that leads to a mistrial is when a jury cannot reach consensus on a verdict. In this case, the jury is said to be “hung” and if no agreement can be reached even after repeated attempts, then the court may declare a mistrial.
There are many other events that can lead to a mistrial, most of which involve some gross procedural error or professional misconduct. Misconduct by a party to the trial, or a juror, or some outside actor such as an audience member can sometimes be so disruptive as to warrant the declaration of a mistrial. In the event that a juror is disqualified, and if no replacement can be found and the litigants can’t agree to proceed with the remaining jurors, then an impasse is reached and mistrial may be declared. Sometimes, in the middle of a trial, the court may determine that it has no jurisdiction over the case, in which case a mistrial is declared. If it is discovered that members of the jury have discussed the case in violation of court instructions, or that a sequestered jury has had access to biased media coverage of court proceedings, a mistrial may be declared. And the sudden death of an attorney or other party to the trial can also be cause to declare a mistrial.
In criminal law, an omission, or failure to act, will constitute an actus reus (Latin for “guilty act”) and give rise to liability only when the law imposes a duty to act and the defendant is in breach of that duty. (wikipedia)
Civil vs. Criminal Law
There are two different types of legal case: civil cases and criminal cases. In criminal cases, the conflict is generally between the state1 and a person or persons. In civil cases, the conflict is generally between two or more private parties. In short, criminal cases are “state versus person,” while civil cases are generally “person versus person.”2 The usual justification for the civil-criminal distinction is that criminal wrongs (such as murder) are offenses against public order or the people as a whole, whereas civil wrongs (such as trespass and breach of contract) are offenses against private individuals. Civil and criminal cases differ in several important respects, including:
- Names of the sides. In criminal trials, the state’s side, represented by a district attorney, is called the prosecution. In civil trials, the side making the charge of wrongdoing is called the claimant / plaintiff. (The side charged with wrongdoing is called the defendant in both criminal and civil trials.)
- Procedural protections. Defendants in criminal cases have certain rights, including some guaranteed by the Constitution, that they do not have civil cases. For instance, a defendant cannot be compelled to testify in his own criminal trial.
- Burdens of proof — see explanation below.
- Possible punishments. Only a criminal conviction can lead to prison or capital punishment. A losing defendant in a civil trial will usually have to pay monetary damages, though some other remedies are also available
In countries where the powerful wield criminal law as a weapon, justice is reduced to another political battlefield.
IN THE NORTHAMPTON COUNTY COURT His Honour Arthur Anthony JUDGE RUMBELOW QC A Circuit Court Judge Assigned to the Northern Circuit.
CASE NUMBER NN13P00882 Ngozi Godwell vs Northamptonshire Local Authority
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