Hung Jury in the First of the Freddie Gray Trials

Last April, the U.S. Department of Justice opened up a civil rights investigation over the death of Freddie Gray while he was in the custody of the Baltimore police. His neck was somehow broken and spinal cord severed whilst in transport to the police station.

Now, the trial of one of the six officers who have been charged in the case, William Porter, has resulted in a ‘mistrial. Mr. Porter faced four charges:

He also allegedly failed to get medical help for Gray as he stopped breathing. He was originally selected by the prosecutors to have the first trial because he was going to be a witness against the other officers in the five other cases. A mistrial occurred because the jury could not reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges.

The mistrial may complicate other cases, specifically the case of officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who was the driver of the police van. All six cops pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and various charges they face. The state prosecutors are now waiting to learn the breakdown of the jury. At present, the number of jurors who voted guilty or not guilty for Porter have not been released.

What is a Mistrial?

In the criminal justice system, a mistrial is one that is not successfully completed. In other words, the jury cannot come to a decision even when it is given the adequate time to deliberate.   

Mistrials can occur for a number of reasons, including the death of the attorney, juror misconduct, or a prejudicial error unfair to the defendant. The most common reason for mistrial is a “hung jury,” when it cannot come to a conclusion as to the guilt of the defendant. Either side may file a motion for mistrial, which is either granted or denied by the presiding judge.

Double Jeopardy

Under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, one cannot be tried nor convicted twice, for the same crime. When a mistrial is declared, the government can pre-prosecute and make another attempt at convicting the defendant if there was a ‘manifest necessity’ for the mistrial. In the Freddie Gray-Porter case, if there is another trial, there is a good chance it may be moved out of Baltimore. Mr. Porter’s lawyers have previously requested for the trial to be moved outside city limits, but were denied those requests.

Jury Makeup

Juries can be either six or 12 people, but the conviction does not have to be unanimous. They only have to be unanimous for six-person juries.

Different from Acquittal

Mistrials and hung juries are different from acquittal. An acquittal occurs when a jury renders a “not guilty” verdict.

San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje handles all criminal matters, including trials and witness depositions. If you have been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact us today.