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Houston, TX |
Attorney answers 6


This depends on the facts, but rarely does a defense attorney recommend a bench trial. You should be discussing this with your attorney. If you do not have one, you should hire one now. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one.

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.


It depends on the type of felony, the circumstances and the judge. As a general rule, it is almost always better to have a jury decide guilt/innocence. In a jury trial, the prosecutor has to convince 12 jurors of guilt, whereas in a bench trial they only have to convince the one judge who is usually a former prosecutor.


You posted this as a "Federal Crime" question. In federal cout you have a jury unless both the defense and the Government agree to waive a jury and go with a bench trial. In many state courts the prosecution has no right to a jury trial and the decision lies entirely with the defendant. The defendant has a personal constitutional right to demand or waive a jury. This is one of the few areas in which the defenant's personal choice controls and the lawyer can only offer advice.

The decision is difficult and has to be made on a case-by-case basis. The facts of the individual case, the personality of the judge, the nature of the jurors available, the nature of the crime, the nature of the evidence, the type of defense to be presented, the trial personality of the lawyer; all these and more are important factors.

Two advantages of a jury in any case are that it the prosecutor must conviince all twelve jurors (in most states, anyway) in order to get a conviction, and it may be easier to appeal successfully from a conviction after a jury trial than from a convicton after a bench trial But these advantages can be overridden in any individual case.

If the facts are truly disgusting and offensive but there is a strong legal defense, the attorney may recommend a bench trial.

If you are the defendant faced with this decision, you must make it in consultation with your lawyer. We Avvo panel attorneys are not here to seond-guess the lawyer who actually knows the case, the judge and the parties. I am certainly not going to tell you what to do, and neither will any of my colleagues, and if we did you shouldn't listen to us because we don't know you, your court, or your case.


Several attorneys have answered already. And, they have given good answers.

There is no one size fits all answer to this question.

And, the answer can and often is different when it comes to punishment issues than when talking about guilt/innocence trials.

General wisdom is often heard this way. If the facts are clear but there is a legal question, try the case to the judge. If there are fact questions, try the case to the jury because you only have to get one juror to agree with you to get a hung jury and the prosecutor needs 12 to get a conviction.

Answers on Avvo are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No attorney / client relationship is created by providing this answer. For specific advice about your situation, you should consult a competent attorney of your choosing.


As all other individuals have depends. There is no hard and fast rule concerning which is "better."

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Usually a jury is best. However, I have seen some cases tried before a judge only that have come out favorably. Discuss this issue thoroughly with your lawyer, who is hopefully local and who can advise you as to the tendencies of the judges in your area.

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