Jury Selection Process In Criminal Cases
In jury selection many methods used to choose the people who will serve on a trial jury. The jury pool, also known as the venire, is first selected from among the community using a reasonably random method. Jury lists are compiled from voter registrations and driver license/state ID renewals. From those lists, summonses are mailed. A panel of jurors is then assigned to a courtroom. The prospective jurors are randomly selected to sit in the jury box, then are questioned in court by the judge and/or attorneys. Depending on the jurisdiction, attorneys may have an opportunity to mount a challenge for cause argument or use one of a limited number of peremptory challenges.
When one is selected to serve on a jury for a criminal trial, that person is given a great responsibility. Each juror must decide whether an accused individual, or defendant, is guilty or not guilty of a charged crime. The jurors must only consider the evidence and testimony presented at trial in making their decisions.
Jurors need to be impartial and free of any bias in deciding the guilt of a defendant. Fairness by the jury is essential to having a proper criminal trial. This fairness needs to be found throughout the entire criminal trial process, from the jury selection to the jury deliberations.
Right to a Jury Trial
Both the federal and state governments guarantee the right to a trial by jury for criminal cases. However, this right normally applies to more serious crimes, such as those that are punishable by more than six months in prison. The defendant may also waive his right to a trial by jury and be tried by the judge.
Questioning Potential Jurors
In selecting jurors for a criminal trial, the court has the responsibility to ensure that the jury will be impartial and free from bias. Individuals that are chosen for jury duty will be questioned by the court and the attorneys for both sides. This questioning process is called voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to discover which individuals won’t be impartial to prevent them from being on the jury.
Challenging Potential Jurors
The attorneys may have various reasons for wanting to excuse a potential juror. If an attorney wants to excuse an individual, she must use a challenge. A challenge is a request to disqualify an individual from the jury. There are two types of challenges:
- Challenges for cause
- Peremptory challenges
A challenge for cause is a request to dismiss a potential juror based on a specific and stated reason. The reason usually revolves around the potential or actual bias of the individual. Examples of reasons to challenge for cause include:
- Exposure to negative pretrial publicity
- Connection to law enforcement or the defendant
- Victim in a similar case
Accidental exposure to the defendant while he was in custody
A peremptory challenge is a request to dismiss a potential juror without stating any reason. This challenge allows an attorney to dismiss a potentially biased juror based on the attorney’s experience and gut feeling. Attorneys are normally limited in the number of peremptory challenges they can use in a criminal case. They usually can make unlimited challenges for cause. Source
a trial that is conducted fairly, justly, and with procedural regularity by an impartial judge and in which the defendant is afforded his or her rights under the U.S. Constitution or the appropriate state constitution or other law. Among the factors used to determine whether a defendant received a fair trial are these: the effectiveness of the assistance of counsel, the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses, the opportunity to rebut the opposition’s evidence and cross-examine the opposition’s witnesses, the presence of an impartial jury, and the judge’s freedom from bias.
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West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
West Palm Beach lawyer Andrew Stine focuses exclusively on criminal defense cases and has an exceptional track record of results spanning the last ten years. A former public defender and medic for the U.S. Army, Mr. Stine is known for being proactive. He represents his clients aggressively, armed with individual attention and a passionate respect for their rights to due process.
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