What is a Hung Jury in a Criminal Case?

Hung jury.

What is a Hung Jury in a Criminal Case?

A jury is comprised of a group of individuals selected at random to hear a specific case for grand jury service or a trial. Those serving jury duty will be required to listen to, and examine, the evidence and facts in their assigned case in order to arrive at a verdict. This process is often an arduous one. Verdicts in criminal cases must be unanimous (civil cases require all votes but one to render a verdict), and many juror panels are not immediately, or ever, in unanimous agreements.

When a jury is unable to provide a verdict in a case, this is known as a “hung jury.” Essentially, it means the jury has deadlocked and is unable to come up with a sufficient number of votes either way.

In some cases, a jury may inform the court that they have come to an impasse. In this case, the court may ask the jury how they, as well as the parties’ attorneys, may assist in furthering the jury’s deliberations.

If the jury remains unable to arrive at a unanimous verdict, the resulting hung jury will result in a mistrial, which simply means that the trial has no legal effect. In this case, the following may occur:

The Court May Schedule a New Trial

Pursuant to Rule 8.2 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, a trial that is ordered after a mistrial must occur within 60 days of the order. A retrial allows both the defense and prosecutor to fine-tune their arguments, which will hopefully allow the new jurors to arrive at a unanimous verdict.

The Parties May Sign a Plea Agreement

Rather than going to trial a second time, the parties involved may find that it would be better to agree on a plea deal rather than go through another trial. This may be preferable in the following instances:

    • For one, or both, sides to save money, as trials are financially costly.
    • If the defense is concerned that the defendant is likely to be found guilty at the second trial and they think they can negotiate a better guilty plea bargain compared to the sentencing terms the defendant would face if convicted.

The State (Prosecution) May Dismiss the Charges

In some instances, the prosecution may feel that the charges involved in the case are too minor to spend the time and resources on a second trial. Alternatively, they may feel that a guilty verdict is unlikely following a retrial, making the efforts not worth it. This tends to happen if most of the original jurors voted to convict, leading the prosecution to feel a conviction at a retrial is unlikely.

If charges are dismissed without prejudice, the prosecution may refile the charges within six months to try the case again.

If charges are dismissed with prejudice, the case is closed and the defendant cannot be charged again for the same matter.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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