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Florida Criminal Law Trial Services

There are two basic types of criminal trials in Florida: Jury Trials and Bench Trials.

Jury Trials are trials where six to twelve people are selected to render a verdict. Jurors do not decide legal issues such as whether someone's rights were violated or whether a case should be dismissed. Jurors decided issues about the facts, the judge decides issues of law.

For example, a person is prosecuted for battery, the defense is that no battery occurred, and the person claiming the battery has lied. The judge would not dismiss the case based upon a defense that the would-be victim has lied. Why? The jurors decide whether the person is lying. The issue of whether the person is lying is a factual issue, not a legal issue.

Bench Trials are where the judge decides both the legal and the factual matters. For example, in a Florida criminal law Bench Trial, the judge could find that the witness lied as a matter of fact because the judge would decide factual issues as well as legal ones.

In Juvenile Delinquency cases, all trials are Bench Trials unless the juvenile in question has been waived up to adult court by the prosecutor.

NOTE: Probation and Community Control Violation Cases are actually hearings, but they are more like Bench Trials since there is no right to a jury.

The Florida Bar Association Board of Legal Education and Specialization in Tallahassee, Florida, has designated Attorney Stephen G. Cobb as a Board Certified Criminal Trial Law Specialist. The Cobb Criminal Defense Law Firm handles all phases of Florida Criminal Trial Law, from pretrial discovery through verdict.



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