Start My Answer

Mistrial — A Definition

Sarah Edwards | August 08, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: When a trial is declared invalid due to serious errors that occurred during the case proceedings, it is called a mistrial. Mistrials can happen in most types of cases for many different reasons. If you are the defendant in a case, having a mistrial is almost always going to benefit you. You can avoid going to trial altogether by using SoloSuit’s services to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

You’ve probably heard of a mistrial but may not know what the term means. Essentially, a mistrial occurs when something happens during court proceedings that adversely impacts the outcome of a case. A judge will declare the case a mistrial before granting a finding for the defendant.

If a judge declares a mistrial, the prosecutor or plaintiff must decide on their next steps. They can drop the charges against the defendant or choose to undergo a second trial.

Mistrials are more common in criminal proceedings but can also occur in civil cases.

What causes a mistrial to occur?

Judges can declare a mistrial for multiple reasons.

The unavailability of a person involved in court proceedings can lead to a mistrial. For instance, the judge may grant a mistrial if a jury member dies or the defendant suddenly develops a severe illness.

Activities conducted by a juror can also lead to a mistrial. All jurors receive specific instructions concerning their duties at the beginning of the trial. Jurors can’t discuss the aspects of the court proceedings with particular people in the courtroom, like the legal teams or the defendant.

Jurors cannot speak with the media during the court case. They should keep all their opinions concerning the matter to themselves when associating with family members or friends. While they can take notes during the deliberation process with other jurors, they must leave them in the jury room at the end of the day.

If a juror fails to abide by the instructions, their actions can result in a mistrial.

What other actions can result in a mistrial?

Problems with evidence can lead to a mistrial. Both the prosecuting and defending legal teams must provide proof relevant to the case. If they present evidence that detracts from the focus of the case, a judge may declare a mistrial.

Under the judge’s reasoning for a mistrial, the inappropriate evidence can adversely sway the jury from a decision that aligns with the requisite facts and documentation.

Both prosecutors and defendants can select jurors from a pool of candidates. If either legal team chooses a candidate with prior knowledge of the case, they violate jury selection rules, which can result in a mistrial if the judge becomes aware of the situation.

Does a hung jury result in a mistrial?

Yes, a hung jury can result in a mistrial. A hung jury happens when jurors can’t reach a unanimous decision on the case. In most U.S. courts, jurors must all agree on the decision before announcing the claim results.

If some jurors disagree, a judge may order the jurors to prepare additional questions for the prosecutor or defendant to answer. The point of the questions is to give them further evidence to reach a unanimous agreement.

If the prosecutor’s and defendant’s answers don’t resolve the juror’s disagreement, the judge will likely declare a mistrial.

Criminal proceedings that end in a mistrial can result in an acquittal of the defendant. An acquittal results in a complete dismissal of the case, and the defendant can move on with their life.

However, prosecutors can choose to pursue a new trial against the defendant or provide an option for a plea bargain. They are under no obligation to dismiss the charges against the defendant.

Usually, prosecutors will only drop their charges if they believe the expense of a new trial outweighs the benefits or if they don’t think they’re likely to succeed in winning the case.

Does the defendant benefit from a mistrial?

Yes, a mistrial can benefit the defendant in certain situations.

First, the prosecutor or plaintiff may drop the charges against the defendant. If they drop the charges, the defendant is free from further legal activity concerning the original claim.

In a criminal case, the prosecutor may offer a plea bargain to avoid the expense of a second trial. A plea bargain may include more favorable arrangements for a defendant, like reduced fines or probation instead of jail time. If the case against the defendant is solid, accepting a plea bargain after a mistrial can benefit them.

Finally, there are specific instructions that both legal teams must follow if the prosecutor decides to pursue a second trial. If the prosecutor makes a mistake, the defense can quickly call their activities into question, which can negatively impact the outcome of the second trial.

Mistrials are usually avoidable if everyone involved in the legal proceedings handles their responsibilities appropriately. A mistrial is unavoidable only when a participant in the proceedings dies or unexpectedly contracts a serious illness that prevents them from continued participation in the case.

Avoid going to trial in your debt collection lawsuit

If you’ve been sued for a debt, there is a chance you will have to go to trial to fight the case. Going to trial is still better than ignoring the case and losing by a default judgment, but there are ways to avoid going to court altogether.

Here are some options that will help you avoid a trial in your debt collection lawsuit:

  • Respond to the case with a strong Answer. You must respond to your lawsuit before your state’s deadline, or you will lose automatically. Draft a strong response where you reply to each claim against you and assert your affirmative defenses. Be sure to send a copy of it to the opposing attorney after filing it with the court. Most debt collectors file lawsuits in the hopes that you’ll ignore it and lose by default. Responding with an Answer document automatically increases the chances of winning your case, as many collection agencies would rather drop the case than continue litigation.

  • File a Motion to Compel Arbitration into the case. If you are being sued for credit card debt, check the card agreement for an arbitration clause. If there is one, filing a Motion to Compel Arbitration can push your case out of court and into arbitration. The arbitration process is much less intimidating than presenting your case in court, and it’s usually really expensive for the creditor, who is usually responsible for all arbitration costs. This legal document can help you avoid court and even get the case dropped.

  • Make an offer to settle the debt. You might have enough money saved to pay off some, or all, of the debt you owe. If this is the case, consider settling your debt before you have to go to court. Debt settlement is a great way to help you save money (most debt collectors are willing to settle for less than the original debt amount) and help you get back on track financially.

Document Calculator

What is the last document you received?

This calculator is for educational purposes only.

SoloSuit can help you with each of these options. Our Answer document takes minutes to complete online, and you can customize it to fit the circumstances of your case. Our Motion to Compel Arbitration is also customizable and helps you push your case out of course and into arbitration. Finally, our Debt Lawsuit Settlement Letter can help you start the negotiation process with debt collectors to reach a debt settlement.

Use SoloSuit to respond to a debt collection lawsuit and increase your chances of winning the case.

Check out this video to learn more:

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

Respond with SoloSuit

Get Started

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

How to answer a summons for debt collection in your state

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.

Guides on how to beat every debt collector

Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.

We have answers

Join our community of over 40,000 people.

You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.

Get Started

Win against credit card companies

Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.

Going to Court for Credit Card Debt — Key Tips

How to Negotiate Credit Card Debts

How to Settle a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit — Ultimate Guide

Get answers to these FAQs

Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.

Why do debt collectors block their phone numbers?

How long do debt collectors take to respond to debt validation letters?

What are the biggest debt collector companies in the US?

Is Zombie Debt Still a Problem in 2019?

SoloSuit FAQ

If a car is repossessed, do I still owe the debt?

Is Portfolio Recovery Associates Legit?

Is There a Judgment Against Me Without my Knowledge?

Should I File Bankruptcy Before or After a Judgment?

What is a default judgment?— What do I do?

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills — What Do I Do?

What Happens If Someone Sues You and You Have No Money?

What Happens If You Never Answer Debt Collectors?

What Happens When a Debt Is Sold to a Collection Agency

What is a Stipulated Judgment?

What is the Deadline for a Defendants Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

Can a Judgement Creditor Take my Car?

Can I Settle a Debt After Being Served?

Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?

Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?

Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?

Do I Need a Payday Loans Lawyer?

Do student loans go away after 7 years? — Student Loan Debt Guide

Am I Responsible for My Spouses Medical Debt?

Should I Marry Someone With Debt?

Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

What Happens If a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

Can You Serve Someone with a Collections Lawsuit at Their Work?

What Is a Warrant in Debt?

How Many Times Can a Judgment be Renewed in Oklahoma?

Can an Eviction Be Reversed?

Does Debt Consolidation Have Risks?

What Happens If You Avoid Getting Served Court Papers?

Does Student Debt Die With You?

Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work in Texas?

How Much Do You Have to Be in Debt to File for Chapter 7?

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Washington?

How Long Does a Judgment Last?

Can Private Disability Payments Be Garnished?

Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?

Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?

The Truth: Should You Never Pay a Debt Collection Agency?

Should You Communicate with a Debt Collector in Writing or by Telephone?

Do I Need a Debt Negotiator?

What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?

Can a Process Server Leave a Summons Taped to My Door?

Learn More With These Additional Resources:

Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.

How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide

How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration Without an Attorney

How to Stop Wage Garnishment — Everything You Need to Know

How to File an FDCPA Complaint Against Your Debt Collector (Ultimate Guide)

Defending Yourself in Court Against a Debt Collector

Tips on you can to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency

Advice on how to answer a summons for debt collection.

Effective strategies for how to get back on track after a debt lawsuit

New Hampshire Statute of Limitations on Debt

Sample Cease and Desist Letter Against Debt Collectors

The Ultimate Guide to Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Utah

West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt

What debt collectors cannot do — FDCPA explained

Defending Yourself in Court Against Debt Collector

How to Liquidate Debt

Arkansas Statute of Limitations on Debt

Youre Drowning in Debt — Heres How to Swim

Help! Im Being Sued by My Debt Collector

How to Make a Motion to Vacate Judgment

How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont

North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Debt

ClearPoint Debt Management Review

Indiana Statute of Limitations on Debt

Oregon Eviction Laws - What They Say

CuraDebt Debt Settlement Review

How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter

How to Appear in Court by Phone

How to Use the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

Debt Consolidation in Eugene, Oregon

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement

Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Heres What to Do

How to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection

Tips for Leaving the Country With Unpaid Credit Card Debt

Kansas Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

How to File in Small Claims Court in Iowa

How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court

Roseland Associates Debt Consolidation Review

How to Stop a Garnishment

Debt Eraser Review

Do Debt Collectors Ever Give Up?

Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?

How Often Do Credit Card Companies Sue for Non-Payment?

How Long Does a Judgement Last?

​​How Long Before a Creditor Can Garnish Wages?

How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court

Not sued yet?

Use our Debt Validation Letter.

Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.

Let's Do It

It only takes 15 minutes.

And 50% of our customers' cases have been dismissed in the past.

"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather

Get Started