Mistrial Law & Legal Definition


A mistrial is the termination of a trial before its natural conclusion because of a procedural error, statements by a witness, judge or attorney which prejudice a jury, a deadlock by a jury without reaching a verdict after lengthy deliberation (a "hung" jury), or the failure to complete a trial within the time set by the court. A mistrial may be declared by the judge on his/her own initiative or upon the motion (request) of one of the parties will "declare a mistrial'. If a mistrial is declared, the jury, if there is one, is dismissed, and direct that the lawsuit or criminal prosecution be set for trial again, starting from the beginning by selecting a jury.

Some of the reasons that may form the basis for a mistrial include:

  • A significant procedural error
  • Because it is discovered that a court lacks jurisdiction over a case
  • Jurors were selected improperly
  • Misconduct that prevents a fair trial