KILLHAM LAW

How Often Do Criminal Cases Go To Trial?


Most criminal cases do not go to trial. The majority of cases are resolved with a plea agreement, which is a negotiated compromise between the State and the Defendant. Cases go to trial when the parties cannot agree on a resolution and disagree about what the evidence will show.

Do Most Attorneys Try To Avoid Trials?

Good defense attorneys should never avoid going to trial if a trial is in the best interest of the client. The reasons to avoid trial are when the risk of a trial outweighs the benefit, or if the evidence is overwhelmingly against the defendant. If a case has a good defense and the State is not willing to offer an acceptable resolution, no attorney should avoid a trial.

What Are The Criteria To Determine Whether To Take A Case To Trial Or Go For A Plea Bargain?

The primary deciding factor in deciding between a trial and a plea is the exposure the client is facing to a harsher sentence. There may be situations where there are excellent trial issues, but a loss would have devastating consequences to the client. In those cases, the attorney and the client must do a risk/benefit analysis to determine the right way to proceed.

Should Someone Go To Trial If They Do Not Like The Plea Offer?

If a defendant is not facing an elevated risk by going to trial, they can certainly reject the plea offer. The purpose of a plea offer is to compromise, the defendant does not get the exact deal that they want, but the State does not get the result they wanted either. Sometimes the State does not extend a plea offer that the defendant finds acceptable, and in those cases, the same benefit/risk analysis must be ascertained.

What Are Common Reasons A Case Might Be Dismissed?

The State will often dismiss a case if there is an issue regarding an integral aspect of their evidence. For instance, if a key witness has moved out of state, and does not want to come back and testify, or video evidence has been destroyed, or if incriminating evidence is lost or precluded. The State may lose key pieces of evidence by way of pre-trial motions. These situations may result in a dismissal when the State is not confident that they can obtain a conviction.

Do Most Clients Have A Proper Understanding Of What A Trial Actually Consists Of?

Many people believe that a trial is the way it is on “Law and Order”, or some other courtroom drama. In reality, most clients are surprised at how long it takes to get to trial, it often takes six months or more before a trial takes place. Also, people are not prepared for the length of time a trial takes, even misdemeanor trials often take two full days. Clients usually do not realize that they will have to hire an expert witness to testify on their behalf, to refute the State’s evidence.

Do Police Officers Ever Fail To Show Up For Trial?

Police officers have scheduling problems like everyone else, and sometimes they just cannot make it to the trial on time. It is unusual for an officer to just fail to show up without calling the State and explaining why can’t be there. In that situation, the State will ask for a continuance. If it is a first trial setting, and the police officer has a reasonable excuse for his or her absence, the continuance will usually be granted. If the officer just fails to appear, or has failed to appear on previous occasions, the court will most likely deny the continuance. In that situation, the State will move to dismiss “without prejudice”. That means that they are able to refile the charges against the defendant within a certain time frame. The exception to this would be if the jury had already been empaneled, then the State would be precluded from refiling the case, because it would be dismissed “with prejudice”.

For more information on Frequency Of Criminal Trials In Arizona, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (623) 428-8203 today.

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