Many criminal matters are resolved by plea bargains. However, if you have been arrested, you have the right to a trial by a jury rather than take a plea bargain. This decision is one you must discuss with your criminal defense attorney. For those choosing the trial route, the below will explain an important facet of your trial—jury selection. Read on and find out more.
Jurors are Contacted
In many places, the juror rolls are compiled using voter records or driver's license lists. Jurors who profess to know the defendant (you), who no longer live in a certain area, that have serious health problems, or otherwise have a conflict may be excused from the selection process.
Prospective Jurors are Briefed
In many cases, jurors are briefed on the facts of the case. They are introduced to the defendant, the attorneys, and others and provided with a summary of the charges. Some general background information is provided about the case as well. For instance, the jurors might learn that the crime occurred at a home on a certain date and time. A description of the crime may be part of the summary. This summary is not to be confused with the opening statements given by the attorneys, however. That comes later when the trial officially begins.
To fill the jury box, many more people than are needed arrive at the courthouse to be questioned. Both your attorney and the state's attorney take turns asking the prospective jurors questions. The questions can be general in nature at first, but they soon become more detailed and focused on the case at hand. Sometimes, jurors fill out questionnaires to help reduce the number of jurors that must be questioned out loud.
Most of the time, only a handful of jurors are required to fill the jury box. Several rounds of eliminations follow. For example, those who have had cases tried by the judge must excuse themselves. If it's a death penalty case, those opposed to the death penalty can be excused.
Jury selection is both an art and a science. Each side is looking for different types of jurors that will be sympathetic to their sides. For example, your lawyer might try to seat jurors that are young if you are also a young defendant. Older people may be viewed as being less sympathetic to young defendants.
Some defendants may attend jury selection, but it depends on how things are done in your area. Speak to a criminal defense law firm such as Hart Law Offices, PC to find out more.