Trials aren’t as common as you think.

Law & Order notwithstanding, the reality is that trials are actually pretty rare. I’ve been telling clients for years that probably something like five percent or less of criminal cases go to trial.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons I did a stint as a prosecutor early in my career was that after my first year as a criminal defense attorney, I had zero trial experience. Even cases that I was certain would go to trial ended up with a dismissal or a plea bargain offer that was just too good to refuse (sometimes on the morning the trial was scheduled to start, much to my dismay). As a prosecutor, on the other hand, the sheer volume of cases that I handled ensured that I got the much-desired trial experience. Even so, it was less than I’d expected. Turns out that’s not so surprising…

Among other interesting tidbits that Grits culled from the annual report on the Texas Judiciary is the fact that less than two percent of all felony cases in Texas went to trial in 2009. That number is only one percent for misdemeanors (which includes DWIs). That’s even lower than I thought.

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