Bench Trials in Georgia

A bench trial is where a judge, not a jury, decides the verdict in a Georgia court case. 

The overall process of a bench trial, however, is similar to that of a jury trial. All evidence is presented to the judge to prove whether or not the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing the crimes in which he or she is charged with, and motions can be filed. Most bench trials are oftentimes a little less formal than jury trials since less people are involved.

 

Bench Trials vs. Jury Trials

Most state trials are bench trials, unless a jury trial is requested. On the other hand, most criminal trials are jury trials unless a bench trial is requested. There’s no set standard for which trial is preferrable, as there are pros and cons to both processes.

 

Pros of a Bench Trial

 There are several reasons why you may want a bench trial over a jury trial:
 
● Since the verdict lies in the hands of one person (the judge), cases are usually resolved more quickly in bench trials since a jury does not have to deliberate.
● Judges are oftentimes also more neutral than juries, and are not as easily swayed by irrelevant evidence.
● A judge is also more adept in legal jargon, so if an attorney is going to use technical terms to argue the defense, a judge may understand more than the average juror.
 
 
Cons of a Bench Trial
There are also reasons may you may not want a bench trial:
 
● In a bench trial, the final verdict is determined by one person—the judge. In some cases, having a jury deliberate over a verdict may benefit the defendant more.
● A judge may also be facing pressure to convict, meaning more guilty verdicts could aide in re-election.
 
An attorney will be able to help you navigate the legal process and decide which trial is right for your case. To learn more about how the attorneys at Wadkins & Wallace can help, call (706) 221-9451 today or click here.