I was arrested for Possession with the Intent to Deliver in Philadelphia. I had a preliminary hearing. I went to arraignment. My case was sent to the felony waiver program. My lawyer told me that we had a good judge and that we should fight the case as a bench trial. When we got to court and we called the case ready, the District Attorney stood up and said that they wanted to do it as a jury trial. The case got sent to another room, then the case got “spun-out” to another room to a different judge and we got a a date for a jury trial 9 months from now. My lawyer now suggested that we make a deal. I thought that defendants and prosecutors are not allowed to judge shop and that sure seems like what is happening to me. Can the Commonwealth demand a jury?
Under Pa. Const. Art. 1, § 6 (2008):
§ 6. Trial by jury
Trial by jury shall be as heretofore, and the right thereof remain inviolate. The General Assembly may provide, however, by law, that a verdict may be rendered by not less than five-sixths of the jury in any civil case. Furthermore, in criminal cases the Commonwealth shall have the same right to trial by jury as does the accused.
Therefore, the District Attorney can demand a jury just the same as the Defendant. Note that this may not be the law in every state, but in Pennsylvania the government amended the constitution, so there is no fighting the governments right. Obviously, if you lose, at sentencing the judge will take into account the idea that the District Attorney’s office demanded on you and usually lowers your sentence as a result.