When you or a loved one is accused of criminal wrongdoing, there are a lot of important decisions to make. One of the most important is whether to take a plea deal or risk going to trial to try to beat the prosecution and obtain an acquittal. If you or your loved one chooses the latter, then the question becomes whether you’re going to exercise your right to be tried by a jury of your peers.
Why jury selection matters
If you do choose a jury trial, then it’s critical that you realize the importance of the jury selection process. The purpose of a jury trial is to ensure that you’re guilt and innocence is determined by those from your community who will treat you fairly and review the evidence from an objective perspective. In other words, a jury trial is meant to ensure that you receive your Constitutional guarantee of a fair trial.
Everyone has their own biases, whether recognized or not. And these biases can have a profound impact on the outcome of your case. That’s where the jury selection process comes into play, giving you the opportunity to question potential jurors and identify any preconceived notions or biases that they have that could jeopardize the fairness of your trial.
During the jury selection process, you and the prosecution will have the ability to ask potential jurors a number of questions. These questions should be aimed at potential jurors’ points-of-view, knowledge of the case, and personal experiences that may cloud the way that they view your case.
If during questioning you suspect that a potential juror’s ability to be impartial has been drawn into question, then you can request that the court remove the potential juror “for cause.” The prosecution can also request that potential jurors be removed for cause, and there isn’t really a limit on the number of these challenges that you can make.
You and the prosecution will also have a limited number of opportunities to remove potential jurors without providing a justification. These are known as peremptory challenges.
If you just have a bad feeling about how a potential juror will view or decide your case, then you can act to remove him or her without having to provide the court with a reason. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t make these decisions on any discriminatory motivation, as doing so will likely be challenged and lead to more legal headaches.
Finalizing the jury
Once all questioning and challenging is done, you should be left with the appropriate number of jurors to move forward with trial. If not, then you’re probably going to have to start the process all over again. This can take some time and lead to more stress, but it’s worth it if that’s what it takes to ensure that you receive a fair trial.
Defending your freedom through every part of your criminal case
To present the best criminal defense possible, you have to make wise decisions at every step of your criminal case. If you don’t, then you could be putting yourself at risk of conviction and the variety of penalties that may be associated with it.
You certainly don’t want that to happen, which is why you might find it beneficial to have a fighter on your side. Experienced criminal defense attorneys can provide that type of advocacy so that you or your loved one can receive a fair trial.