Can a Guilford County criminal defense attorney explain what happens when witnesses don’t show up? Yes, we can! It can be very frustrating for everyone when a key witness doesn’t show up to court. This can cause delays in a trial, or it can even cause a mistrial in some instances. When mistrials happen, though, sometimes double jeopardy kicks in and the defendant cannot be tried again for the same matter. For more information on these issues, it’s important that you speak with a Guilford County criminal defense attorney.
When a jury is empaneled, jeopardy attaches to the case and the defendant then has a right to have their case heard by that particular jury. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, and mistrial happens to be one of them. The caveat is that the mistrial must be accompanied by manifest necessity for a second trial to take place. Usually this happens in instances of a hung jury or when it’s physically impossible to complete the trial. For example, if a judge or juror falls extremely ill, or passes away, then manifest necessity would be triggered. When manifest necessity is triggered along with a mistrial, the defendant can be subject to being tried a second time by a new jury. For more information about mistrials, you should speak with a Greensboro criminal defense attorney.
So, does a key witness not coming to court trigger manifest necessity? Most of the time, no. For example, if the State started a trial and the jury was empaneled when they knew there was a good possibility their key witness would not show up for trial, they are taking a risky chance that their evidence may be insufficient to make the case. At this point, jeopardy attaches and if there’s a mistrial, manifest necessity will not be an option. Thus, the defendant would not be subject to a second trial. If you have concerns about mistrials and witnesses showing up to court, you should consult a Guilford County criminal defense attorney regarding your options.
Because mistrials and double jeopardy can be complex issues, it’s important to speak with a Greensboro criminal defense attorney before making any final decisions about your case. The criminal defense attorneys at Garrett, Walker, Aycoth, and Olson know the requirements of the law and also genuinely care about the cases presented to them. Call at 336-379-0539 today; we are here to help!