Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Criminal Jury Trials: Lawyers may Re-Argue Case to avoid Hung Jury

Posted on: January 21, 2008 at 7:45 p.m.

California criminal law requires a unanimous verdict - which means all 12 jurors must agree that the defendant on trial is either guilty or not guilty. If the jurors cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge declares a mistrial and the DA must decide whether to reprosecute the case or not. In a retrial, the DA would have to call all the witnesses again, bring in all the physical, direct, and circumstantial evidence - in other words, do the trial from scratch, as if the first one never even happened. Obviously, the expense and time is great, and many prosecutors will seek to reach a plea bargain with a defendant, to avoid a retrial. As a result, for most Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers, a hung jury represents a de facto legal victory, which often results in a very favorable case disposition for the criminal client.

One way to avoid a hung jury in the first place is to allow the prosecutor and defense attorney the opportunity to reargue their positions in front of the jury, in attempt to clear up any confusion. This is generally more helpful for the prosecution, and the defense will object to the procedure. Recently the California Court of Appeal ruled a trial judge, in San Joaquin Court, did not abuse her discretion in reopening closing argument in order to break a jury deadlock in a criminal case. The court affirmed a defendant's robbery conviction, which resulted in a 25-year-to-life prison sentence under the Three Strikes Law. In doing so, it rejected the defense argument that there was no statutory support for the judge's decision to allow a new round of closing argument after jurors reported that they were deadlocked.

Prosecutors charged defendant with robbing a USA Gas Station in Lodi, with Hayes using a firearm and Young a BB gun that simulated a firearm. A police officer who knew defendant and his family identified him from a photo that was made from a surveillance tape, and the two clerks who were working at the time of the robbery identified him from a photo array. A police detective testified to an unrecorded interview in which defendant
admitted his involvement, said he was sorry, identified a co-Defendant as the other robber, and suggested he would

Tagged as: motion to dismiss unlawful police search


Tania Bakar on May 11, 2009 at 10:25 p.m. wrote:

I think Criminal Law is extremely interesting, and I think it is even more interesting to be a Criminal Defense Attorney. It has to be really difficult to defend a person, where in the eyes of many people seems to be an outsider or a perpetrator of humanity. I can only imagine how hard it would to argue a case that has to convince 12 people that your client is innocent or to lessen his/her sentencing. I was not really aware that a defense attorney has the opportunity to re-argue his/her case. This definitely does seem to be more favorable to the defendant. However, it would be overall more beneficial for everyone to avoid a hung jury in the first place. Employing some of the concepts and strategies that Gerry Spence talks about such as tapping into the heart-zone, delivering a power argument, envisioning a win, etc. These tactics are very important because Spence has shown that these strategies can definitely help one to win an argument. This law about having a unanimous verdict to me really seems to protect the rights of the accused, because it does not allow a person to be found guilty under something like a 7 -5 vote, which reflects less certainty of whether the defendant committed the crime or not.

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