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Criminal Trial

Defendants have a constitutional right to a jury trial, but may opt to forego this right in favor of a trial by a judge in the Criminal Division of Superior Court. Once a case has been decided, there are three (3) possible outcomes: the defendant is found guilty; the defendant is found not guilty, or acquitted, by a jury or judge; or the charges are dismissed based on a motion entered by the defense. The case can also be declared a mistrial for various reasons, such as the jury cannot agree on a verdict. A mistrial is then rescheduled for a future date.

Normally, an acquitted person has no further obligation to the court, unless they face new charges. Prosecutors have no right to appeal acquittals, and defendants may not be tried twice for the same offense. Defendants who are found guilty face sentencing, where punishments are rendered by the judge who tried the case.

Defendants found guilty of capital murder, face a second trial where jurors hear evidence from the prosecution regarding aggravating factors related to the murder. Defense lawyers present evidence seeking to establish mitigating factors. The jury has to find first, whether the aggravating and mitigating factors exist. Then, they must decide whether the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors or visa versa. If the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, the defendant is sentenced to death. If the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors, the defendant is sentenced to 30 years in prison without the availability of parole.

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