Legal Definition of mistrial
- A partial or complete trial which is found to be null and void and of no effect because of some irregularity. The sudden end of trial before it would ordinarily end because of some reason which invalidates it. Once a mistrial is declared, the situation is as if the trial had never occurred. Some common reasons for a mistrial include a deadlocked jury, the death of a juror or a serious procedural and prejudicial mistake made at the trial which cannot be corrected.
Definition of mistrial
mistrial (plural mistrials)
- (law) A trial that is invalid because of an error in procedure
A judge may cancel a trial prior to the return of a verdict; legal parlance designates this as a mistrial.
A judge may declare a mistrial due to:
- The court determining that it lacks jurisdiction over a case,
- Evidence being admitted improperly,
- Misconduct by a party, juror, or an outside actor, if it prevents due process,
- A hung jury which cannot reach a verdict with the required degree of unanimity
- Disqualification of a juror after the jury is impanelled, if no alternate juror is available and the litigants do not agree to proceed with the remaining jurors.
A declaration of a mistrial generally means that the court must hold a retrial on the same subject.
An important exception occurs in criminal cases in the United States. If the court erroneously declares a mistrial, or if prosecutorial misconduct forced the defendant into moving for a mistrial, the constitutional protection against double jeopardy bars any retrial.
- Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
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