If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, then you have the right to have your case heard by a jury of your peers rather than having it decided by a judge. This can increase the burden placed on the state given that prosecutors will then have to convince multiple individuals that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Requesting a jury trial can also give rise to some criminal defense opportunities. This is because there is a whole jury selection process where you can make strategic decisions that may increase your chances of obtaining an acquittal.
Why jury selection matters
The jury selection process in your criminal case is extremely important, and for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that individuals enter the jury pool with their own learned experiences, biases, and motivations. Depending on a juror’s world-view, he or she could be receptive to your defense arguments, or he or she could consider you guilty before opening arguments even start. The scariest part about this is that you can’t identify a potential juror’s biases and prejudices at first glance, which is where the jury selection process comes into play.
The jury selection process
When a pool of potential jurors is called into court, the prosecution and defense each have the opportunity to question the potential jurors. These questions can be targeted toward biases and prejudices, or they can seek to determine how much pre-existing knowledge the potential juror has about the case. Here, the attorneys can’t ask how a potential juror would decide on a case, and they can’t ask overly personal questions.
After questions have been asked, each side has the ability to try to remove potential jurors. The first way to do so is to request removal for cause. This simply means that the answers to some of the questions that were asked demonstrate that the individual is unfit to serve on the jury. So long as the attorney has a legal reason for requesting dismissal of the potential juror, he or she can make nearly an unlimited number of motions for removals made for sufficient cause.
Each side is also allowed a number of peremptory challenges. Here, a potential juror can be removed simply because the challenging attorney believes that the individual will be unfair if he or she were to serve on the jury. However, a peremptory challenge can’t be made on the basis of race or class. If it appears that that’s happening, then the other side should bring that concern to the judge’s attention.
Once potential jurors are removed for cause and through peremptory challenges, the court will be left with what should be the appropriate number of people to serve on the jury.
Know how to competently navigate the jury selection process
As you can see, there’s a lot involved in the jury selection process. Yet, if you mishandle jury selection, then you could end up with your future in the hands of a group of people who have already pre-decided your case. That’s inappropriate and antithetical to your right to fair trial. That’s why you need to make sure that you have a strong legal strategy from the very get-go of your case, and that you know how to competently navigate the jury selection process. You should know how to ask questions that are aimed at highlighting bias, and you need to be able to raise appropriate peremptory challenges that best position your case for success.
We know that the complexities involved in your criminal case can be enormously stressful, but you can find the support that you need to competently navigate your criminal case. Only then can you best ensure that you position yourself as aggressively as possible for achieving the outcome that you desire.