Seldom do you see criminal defendants choose a bench trial over a jury trial. Juries tend to be more capricious. Every lawyer is rolling the dice once they argue before one. Judges, on the other hand, are considered less likely to be swayed by the emotional elements in the case. In cases where a police officer is standing trial, the defendant may choose a bench trial over a jury trial. Those who are facing sex crimes charges related to children may also prefer to let a judge assess the charges against them than a jury, since pedophiles are not among the most popular defendants in a courtroom. In this case, the defendant chose a bench trial and was still convicted of the crime. In this article, we’ll discuss the facts surrounding the case.
U.S. attorneys were able to convince a judge that the defendant had engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl from the Bahamas who was the victim of sex trafficking. According to prosecutors, the girl was in the U.S. in 2020 and the defendant had several sexual encounters with the girl. After, the defendant continued his relationship with the girl even after she had flown out of the U.S. While the girl was back in the Bahamas, the defendant convinced her to provide sexual images of herself and engage in sex shows. The girl sent a video of herself to the defendant over a messenger application.
The defendant will face at least 15 years in federal prison. He faces one count of transporting a minor for sexual gratification and another count of producing child pornography. He could face a life sentence, but the law requires anyone convicted of transporting a minor for sex to face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. Five additional years is for the child pornography charge.
Bench trial or jury trial for child sex crimes?
If you’re accused of statutory rape or any of the other associated child sex crime charges, then you’re in a bad position. The jury will look at you as if you’re already guilty. Why else would you be accused of such a crime? Meanwhile, the judge isn’t going to be much more sympathetic. Whether or not a jury is appropriate for a child abuse trial depends entirely on the type of defense your attorney wants to raise.
Generally speaking, an attorney will consider a bench trial when the alleged crimes are sufficiently heinous and it would be hard for them to be impartial. Further, it’s easier to appeal a bench verdict than a jury verdict because juries are under no obligation to explain their decisions whereas judges are expected to provide legal reasoning for their choices. Lastly, bench trials tend to be cheaper and take less time, whereas jury trials can go on for months without a resolution.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re facing serious charges, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule an appointment and allow us to begin building your defense immediately.