If you have been arrested and charged with a criminal offense in the State of Florida you are likely frightened, confused, and worried about the outcome of your case. All of these emotions are certainly understandable as the consequences of a criminal conviction can be far reaching and long-lasting. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may be asking “ Can I have a jury trial on a misdemeanor in Florida? ” The simple answer to that question is “yes”; however, you should always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before deciding how to proceed with your case.
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees you the right to a trial by jury, reading in pertinent part as follows:
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”
The precise procedures can vary from one jurisdiction to another; however, in most cases a defendant is presumed to want to exercise the right to a trial by jury when charged with a felony offense but must request a jury trial if charged with a misdemeanor. Procedurally, this means that if you are charged with a felony but wish to have your case heard by a judge at a “bench trial” or you wish to enter into a plea agreement with the State you must formally waive your right to jury trial first. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, on the other hand, you may need to make a formal request for a jury trial within a specific period of time after your arrest.
If you elect to have your misdemeanor case heard by a jury, the jury will consist of six members (and at least one alternate) that are intended to represent a “jury of your peers”. The jurors will be selected from lists of registered voters and driver's licenses. The State of Florida must convince all of the jurors that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you of the charge.
The decision to take a case to jury trial is a decision that should only be made after consultation with your criminal defense attorney. Sometimes, it is better to consider a plea agreement. Other times, a bench trial might be more favorable if the issues are purely legal.
If you have additional questions or concerns about your specific situation, speak with an experienced defense attorney today. Keep Calm Call Us®! 727-531-2926.