The United States justice system offers two types of trials – one that can be handled by a Jury and the other by the Judge. The jury and judge are the ones that can judge the merits of the case. Cases heard by a qualified judge are called a bench trial.
No Jury Only Judge
In a bench trial, there is no jury sitting to decide on the case. Bench trial implies trial by a judge, who will serve a dual purpose in the case. The first purpose is that the judge will decide the direction which the case will take. He or she will make rulings and deal with all problems that arise during the course of the trial. The second purpose a judge serves is that he or she will ultimately decide the fate of the defendant and pronounce whether he or she is guilty, Law Offices of Steven R. Adams explains.
Bench Trials are Suitable for Certain Cases
Bench trials are ideal for cases where the case can be won by the defendant based on the evidence available. The judge will be able to easily recognize the evidence and accordingly give the verdict. If the evidence is damning then bench trial may not be favorable for the defendant. The criminal judges deal with many such cases and will not have the same level of empathy as a jury would. Therefore, a bench trial in such cases is not recommended.
Bench trial differs from a jury trial, which is preferred when the defendant’s case is not very strong. The plan should be to have a jury, whose sympathy can be used to get the ruling in favor of the defendant. The defendant can appeal to the sensibilities of the jury in a jury trial. This is not possible in a bench trial. But even for a jury trial, a judge will sit to handle procedural and other such issues.
It is good for you to consult a lawyer to help explore the options available.