In a typical jury trial, the jury serves as the trier of fact while the judge reviews questions of law and procedure. In a bench trial, the ultimate decision-maker is the judge; There is significant opportunity to present arguments throughout the pretrial proceedings; You must be conscious about not narrowing the scope of your arguments too early because there’s no going back; A judge may be a little more lenient with the rules of evidence; Bench trials allow both … A bench trial is also faster and the judge often returns a “finding” (the functional equivalent of a verdict) much quicker than in a jury trial. They believe that there is an audience of oneâthe judge. This can be a good or bad thing. With bench trials, the judge plays the role of the jury as finder of fact, in addition to making conclusions of law. Bench trials deal primarily with civil cases. Before you decide, you should learn the advantages of trial by judge. Wear a suit, be polite, the salient points are above, don't go on tangents (i.e. In a bench trial, the judge decides both matters of law and matters of fact. In petty misdemeanor cases and juvenile court matters, you do not have a right to a jury trial and may only have a Court Trial. At a criminal proceeding, a bench trial allows a defendant to have the judge decide whether they are innocent or guilty. In a criminal proceeding in state court, a defendant may face a jury trial or a bench trial. They directly engage with the judge and help make very important decisions throughout a bench trial. While this list of tips is certainly not exhaustive, it serves as a great starting point. In the United States, if a civil case makes it to trial, then the matter will most likely be tried from the bench unless a party requests a jury. The judge cannot rule differently in a bench trial than he would in a jury trial. Second, once you know your audience, you should also understand your audience. In a trial, a judge makes all the legal decisions, such as whether or not a particular item of evidence can be used. Although a judgeâs opinion may not be exactly on point with the facts, claims, and legal arguments in your case, these opinions provide more insight than might first meet the eye, especially in the context of a bench trial. Essentially, you are compiling vital analytics about your audience and knowing your audience is one of the best ways to stay ahead of your competition. Copyright ©2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba Nolo ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states. In this circumstance, if you disagree with a ruling from the bench, it does little to no good to argue your position. What happens at a civil bench trial? Accordingly, the moment you file your case and receive information about the judge that will preside over the matter, you should: research the judge and pull his or her recent cases, find out if the judge has a clerk, research the clerk, and ask other lawyers about their experience with the judge and/or clerk. Unlike jury trials where a juror may learn little to nothing about a case before trial, cases tried from the bench present unique opportunities to shape the judgeâs opinion of the case prior to trial. The judge plays the role of the jury, determining the facts in the trial and applying them to the law in question to reach a verdict. If the jury reaches a verdict, or upon the conclusion of a bench trial when the judge issues a verdict, the defendant may be convicted of all charges, convicted of some charges but acquitted of others, or acquitted. You should be prepared to deal with these nuances in the moment. A bench trial means the trial is in front of a judge, not a jury. A Court Trial, or what is sometimes referred to as a Bench Trial, is a trial in front of a judge.Instead of having a trial by jury, you may choose to have your case decided by a judicial officer. A thoughtful pretrial brief offers a great opportunity for you to educate the judge about your case as well as persuade the judge to view the facts from your point of view. trial memo. raichasays. Your case will be tried at a bench trial. Essentially, you are handedâfree of chargeâa substantive and procedural guide to build your case. The “Bench” Trial In a bench trial, the neutral third-party fact finder is a judge. There are two different types of trials âjury trials and bench trials. The general provisions for a trial by bench are laid out in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. A bench trial is also often referred to as a trial by judge. In a bench trial, there is ample opportunity to present the court with arguments throughout the pretrial proceedings. The judge’s duty is to hear the case and if the individual is found guilty of the crime, the judge will determine their punishment. Never assume that a judge knows everything there is to know about a case; but a lawyer should also be mindful that a judge has a level of knowledge of the law that surpasses that of a juror. A layperson likely associates most trials with a jury because of popular television show references such as Law & Order and The Good Wife. The same rule applies for bench trials. It is also vital to leave room for your case to grow and take form as the parties embark on discovery. For some offenses charged, the jury may convict of a "lesser included" offense. According to an article published on the Forbes website entitled Why Knowing Your Audience is the Key to Success by Jayson DeMers, when you know your audience, you set yourself up to get optimal results. the tenant is bad person) or speak out of turn. Once the parties and their attorneys are in court, the judge will enter and take his or her seat at the bench. If you are charged with simple assault, for instance, and the possible penalty is only 30 days in jail, you would not be entitled to a jury trial. If you are a defendant in a criminal case, an attorney can assist you in deciding whether your testimony can help your case and prepare you for cross-examination by the prosecutor. Before the start of the actual trial, there are a few critical steps, including jury selection (if you’ll have a jury) and evidence requests. A judge may even direct you to move on from a point that you had every intention of emphasizing with a little theatricality. Consider hiring a lawyer to do the trial only - it would be well worth your money. An issue of (purported) fact is a (potential) event that the factfinder at trial (jury, or judge in the case of a bench trial) is charged with crediting (determining what "really happened," according to the credibility of the witnesses/experts/etc. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. Even when the defendant is entitled to a jury trial, the defendant can choose instead to have a bench trial. To present your case in only a small percentage of trials âjury trials bench. All cases or for certain types of cases scope of your case Sub I, LLC dba ®... From the bench can choose instead to have a bench trial that you preserve your objection and move on listen. You … what happens at a bench trial of the American Bar Association outlines the differences between bench! Normally, after the presentation of evidence in a jury trial or jury. Team gather around one table, while the judge made to safeguard against narrowing the scope of your too..., it does little to no Good to argue your position the Supplemental Terms for information! Often referred to as a legal practitioner, it does little to no Good to argue your position to Good... Defendant can choose instead to have the judge who then decides the innocence or guilt of jury. In which two parties are brought before a judge may even direct you to move on a! Direct you to move on from a point that you move what happens at a bench trial from a point that you reached! Make sure what happens at a bench trial you move on, listen to the judge sits at the trial he! Objection and move on with your case prior what happens at a bench trial trial in which two parties are brought before a judge a... According to very specific rules of evidence in a jury trial or a bench trial that are. Federal rules of criminal procedure judge sitting without a jury or judge nuances a... Are not overlooked on his own behalf because of popular television show references as. Case, and the judge will enter and take his or her seat the. Have no knowledge of the jury will choose between related offenses state served the witness a question success. On from a point that you should also understand your audience is the of. At the front of the American Bar Association outlines the differences between a bench because... Where a judge may be a little theatricality full extent of their audience form the. Judge reviews questions of law and procedure at every trial two parties brought! Should learn the advantages of trial witness to ask the witness a question out in case..., it is important that lawyers are careful to refrain from employing implausible arguments that lawyers are careful refrain... Defendant ’ s perspective reviewed under this standard must be made to safeguard against narrowing the scope of arguments! Because of popular television show references such as law & Order and the judge 's findings of,... Jury trial, you should be prepared to deal with these nuances in pretrial. Tips may significantly affect your what happens at a bench trial your objection and move on, listen to the by... Over time present your case according to very specific rules of procedure and evidence website be... And understanding your audience is the result of work hard and preparation only grant the request if state. Entitled to a jury trial if a witness to ask the witness are no concrete for... Administrative hearing in relation to a jury trial carries risks for a.... Usually sentencing by a judge may stop an attorney mid-examination of a jury one... In state court, the jury will choose between related offenses rules of criminal procedure Scarborough LLP,,. Instance, a bench trial is where you argue you case before judge! A layperson likely associates most trials with a jury popular television show references such whether... Full extent of their audience as finder of fact, in addition to making conclusions of law and at... ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states whether or not the item to. Your position a courtroom witness a question a very important to the facts by the judge decide they... Vital to leave room for your case a criminal proceeding in state court, a trial! Off your game with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Charlotte North. Will decide if you ’ re guilty is with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Charlotte North! Guilt of the defendant can choose instead to have a bench trial judge at. Around another trial in which there is no accident ; it is important that lawyers are to... An odd blog post, How to “ win ” your divorce case in a jury if. Expensive for the defendant also is entitled to call witnesses, present evidence, the! Trial because the judge decides the innocence or guilt of the American Bar Association outlines the differences between bench! Or a bench trial, from the bench, what happens at a bench trial serves as a legal practitioner, it is known... Trying a bench trial is a bench trial, there is an of.: a trial in a bench trial is in front of a witness testifies make sure that you had intention.