Definition of Bench trial
A bench trial, also called a “court trial,” means a trial process where the Judge (instead of a jury) considers the evidence and decides the case (for example, if the defendant is guilty) based on the facts presented. A jury trial means a jury (group of people) decides if the defendant is guilty.
Because the judge alone makes the decision on the case, he/she decides the credibility of the evidence presented at trial and also decides what happens at the trial according to laws and rules of procedure. The rules of evidence and procedural methods are the same in both. Specific procedure for bench trial is determined by the applicable state code. In bench trial, the judge decides questions of facts and questions of law, whereas those questions are divided in a jury trial, because questions of facts are determined by the jury and only questions of law is decided by the judge.
Jury trial vs. Bench trial
A bench trial is utilized for many different reasons. For example, the trial process in a bench trial is somewhat more expedited (take less time) than jury trials because the lawyers do not have to go through the jury selection and instruction process. Therefore, it may be selected when parties desire a speedy resolution to a legal matter. “Bench trials also tend to be slightly less formal than jury trials. A bench trial may also be useful in particularly complex cases that a jury might not understand.
The drawback to a bench trial is that there is only one finder of fact, so there is not the opportunity that exists in jury trials for at least one person to agree with a given side.
The benefit of a jury trial is juries do not need to answer to anyone for the decisions they make, whereas judges may be influenced by the fact that they face re-election or review from the governor to keep their jobs.
The drawbacks to jury trials are that they are time-consuming and jurors may not always follow the law, instead rendering verdicts based on emotions.”(1)
In many jurisdictions, like New York law, the defendant can decide to have a judge hear his/her case. The defendants may waive their right to a jury trial and may opt for a Bench Trial. Both the defendant and the prosecution have the right to present their case to a jury.
Questions about Bench trials
What preparations and documents are required to attend a bench trial? Is a lawyer required for bench trial? Can I request for another bench trial?
Notes and References
1. What is the Difference Between a Bench Trial and a Jury Trial? https://www.rms-law.com/Articles/What-is-the-Difference-Between-a-Bench-Trial-and-a-Jury-Trial.shtml
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Bench Trial Legal Definition
Trial without a jury in which the judge decides the case.
English Spanish Translation of Bench trial
Juicio sin jurado
Find other English to Spanish translations from the Pocket Spanish English Legal Dictionary (print and online), the English to Spanish to English dictionaries (like Bench trial) and the Word reference legal translator.
What does Bench Trial mean in American Law?
One without a jury, especially when a jury trial has been waived.
Bench Trial Meaning in the U.S. Court System
Trial by a judge without a jury in which a judge decides which party prevails.
Meaning of Bench Trial in the U.S. Legal System
Definition of Bench Trial published by the National Association for Court Management: Trial without a jury in which a judge decides the facts.