Mistrial Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Mistrial, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Mistrial?

(n) Mistrial is the declaration by a judge terminating or otherwise discontinuing the trial for any reasons by which the trial could not be continued in that court. Mistrial is ordered when the court fail to conclude the case within the allotted time, procedural errors, prejudication buy judge, attorney etc.

History and Meaning of Mistrial

A mistrial is a legal term that refers to the termination of a trial before its natural conclusion. This can occur for several reasons, such as a hung jury, a serious procedural error, or the discovery of new evidence. A mistrial can be declared by either the judge or the prosecutor, and it effectively cancels the trial, forcing the parties to begin the process anew.

The concept of mistrials has existed in various forms throughout Western legal history. The legal principle behind a mistrial is that each defendant is entitled to a fair and impartial trial, free from any prejudice or bias. Thus, if any irregularities or issues arise during the trial that may prevent a just outcome, the court has the power to declare a mistrial.

Examples of Mistrial

  1. A jury in a high-profile criminal case fails to agree on a verdict after prolonged deliberations, resulting in a hung jury and mistrial declaration by the judge.

  2. During a trial, it is discovered that a key piece of evidence was not properly disclosed to the defense, resulting in a mistrial.

  3. The judge makes a highly prejudicial remark about the defendant during the course of the trial, resulting in the defendant's lawyer requesting and being granted a mistrial.

Legal Terms Similar to Mistrial

  1. Hung Jury - refers to a situation where a jury is unable to reach a verdict despite extended deliberation.

  2. Acquittal - is a legal judgment that follows a trial when the judge or jury finds that the defendant is not guilty of the crime charged.

  3. Retrial - is a process by which a case that has already been tried is heard again in front of a new jury or judge.