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What is a hung jury?

The basic workings of a Louisiana jury trial are generally well known. A jury is chosen, hears the arguments presented in court, and once the arguments are concluded, the jury is sent off to consider a verdict. Sometimes the verdict is decided in a single day. If a jury needs more time, the jury might be sent home or be sequestered. However, in some instances a jury may not be able to agree on a verdict at all.

When a jury experiences problems coming to a verdict, a judge may continue to extend the time for deliberations. At a certain point, however, it becomes clear that a jury cannot agree on a decision. This outcome, according to the American Bar Association, is known as a hung jury. When a hung jury occurs, a mistrial is declared because no verdict can be reached.

The occurrence of a mistrial is important for a number of reasons. For one thing, if your trial resulted in a mistrial, it would not mean you could not be tried again. A hung jury is not an exoneration. It just means that no verdict could be reached. A new trial may be granted with a new jury, and you would simply go through the trial process once again.

However, there is also the possibility that the government or plaintiff involved may decide that it is not worth it to retry the case and simply drop any requests for a new trial. In other instances, the prosecution will still want to move forward but they are uncertain that a second trial may result in a conviction. Instead, the prosecution may seek to negotiate a plea deal that drops some of the charges or reduces the sentence.

Basically, a hung jury does not automatically put an end to any future possibility that you could be brought to trial again. However, a mistrial does offer your defense counsel the opportunity to negotiate a plea deal, provided the prosecution is willing to negotiate down the charges or the sentence.

Be aware that while this article offers information on criminal defense issues, it does not offer any legal advice.

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