What Is a Mistrial and When Do They Happen?

Maverick Ray Law
July 31, 2023

When a Criminal Case Is Declared a Mistrial

Criminal cases typically end with a verdict of either guilty or not guilty. However, there are some cases that don’t end in a verdict at all. These cases are referred to as “mistrials.” A mistrial is a trial that was not successfully completed. There are certain conditions that must be met in order for a judge to deem a case invalid and declare a mistrial.

If you are facing criminal charges, turn to the dedicated team of Houston criminal defense lawyers at Maverick Ray & Associates. Our team is passionate about assisting our clients through difficult times. We will fight aggressively to protect your rights and freedom and work hard to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Remember, it is never too early to speak with a lawyer. Contact us at (281) 672-8029 today to schedule a free consultation.

What is a Mistrial?

A mistrial is a trial that is ended before a verdict is rendered. When a mistrial takes place, the preceding proceedings become null and void. This means that the previous testimony and findings presented at trial are not considered in a subsequent trial.

When Does a Mistrial Occur?

A mistrial can occur for a number of reasons.

A “Hung Jury” - Mistrials often occur when the members of the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict. Federal courts and most state courts require a unanimous verdict. When the jurors can’t all agree on a defendant’s guilt or innocence, the presiding judge must declare a mistrial.

Juror Misconduct - The presiding judge will give members of the jury specific instructions on what they can and cannot do when serving on the jury. These instructions include not reading, listening to, or watching anything about the case and not discussing the details of the case with anyone. If the judge learns that a juror violated the court’s instructions or rules, a mistrial will likely be declared.

Inadmissible Evidence Is Heard - Jurors should only hear evidence that is admissible. In some cases, the jury might hear evidence that should not have been heard, or lawyers make improper statements in front of the jury. If the statements or evidence are significant and could influence the verdict, the judge will declare a mistrial.

Improper Selection of the Jury - Courts and attorneys typically want jurors who don’t know the case, parties, or witnesses involved. There may be a mistrial if a juror lied during the selection process or if one of the attorneys used improper factors when selecting the jurors.

Does a Mistrial Mean the Case Is Over?

Just because a mistrial occurs doesn’t mean the defendant is acquitted. A defendant is only acquitted when the judge or jury renders a not guilty verdict. After a mistrial, the prosecution must make the decision to either bring another trial or not proceed with another trial. When the prosecution believes they will likely not be able to get a conviction, they will choose not to bring another trial. If they feel they have a good chance of getting a guilty verdict, they will typically choose to bring another trial.

Speak with a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If your initial criminal case ended in a mistrial, you need the assistance of an experienced and determined criminal defense attorney. At Maverick Ray & Associates, our legal team is committed to protecting the rights and best interests of our clients. We have the skills and drive to see your case through and secure a favorable outcome.
Mistrials can be stressful and frustrating as the result of your case is further delayed. That is why it is critical to have the support and guidance of a compassionate criminal defense lawyer in Houston. Get started today by contacting us online or calling (281) 672-8029 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.