Skip to main content

A Defendant's Right to a Judge or Jury Trial

Posted by attorney Marc Snyder

A Defendant who is charged with a crime for which the maximum penalty is more than 90 days in jail has a right for his case to be heard and decided upon by a jury pod his or her peers. Because there are no jury trials in District Court, if a Defendant elects to have a jury trial, it will be held in the corresponding Circuit Court. In Maryland. a jury consists of 12 people who are chosen from the motor and voter roles on record Therefore, a Defendant's jury will consist of those fellow citizens who have registered to vote and/or drive. To be convicted, the jury must unanimously rule that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is a standard for which much has been written over the history of legal affairs in our nation. Basically, the jury must be convinced to the extent that there are no lingering doubts that are "reasonable." This does not mean that there can be no doubts. It is quite common for people to have small doubts as to most things. Certainty is a very rare quality in most things in life. That being said, it is necessary that the jury not have any reasonable counts, not that they have no doubts at all. If the jury finds that the matter has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt, the Defendant should be found guilty. The same standard is applicable to a Court trial. The difference is that the Judge will rule on the case and will make the ultimate determination as to guilt or innocence. the way in which the matter is presented will, for the most part, be the same as with a jury trial, with only minor strategic differences taking place. Likewise, the Judge must also adhere to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard.

The choice to present a Defendant's case to either a Judge or a jury is an important decision that must be made after careful consideration by the Defendant's legal counsel.

Additional resources provided by the author

The Law Offices of Marc G. Snyder represent individuals facing criminal charges throughout the State of Maryland. By accepting a limited number of cases, we are able to devote the time, energy and resources necessary to achieve the best result for our clients. Please call us, any time, at (410) 656-9LAW (9529) or visit us on the web at ww The

Author of this guide:

Was this guide helpful?