Question: What is the difference between a bench trial and a jury trial in Oklahoma? Are there pros and cons to each?
Answer: A jury trial is a trial in front of a jury. The jury is made up of people in the community where the crime has been charged. And depending on exactly what type of crime it is would change how many people are on that jury; whether there are six people or 12 people are the most common makeups of a jury trial.
A bench trial is a trial not in front of a jury but in front of a judge. So instead of having a jury determine whether you are guilty or innocent, you would have a judge make that determination. Crimes which do not carry more than six months of jail time would be heard in front of a judge instead of in front of a jury.
And the pros and cons of each are juries are made up of people like you and I. People like you and I can be swayed, sometimes by emotion, sometimes by logic. Whereas judges tend to view things very formulaically by what the law specifically says. So if your best defense is an emotional defense, then you would want to be heard by a jury. But if your best defense is a very technical, legal definition, then you may want it heard by a judge because they would be more open to that type of an argument.