What is the Role of a Jury in a Criminal Trial?
Hi. I’m attorney Kevin Hayslett and the question is “what is the role of a jury in a criminal trial?” We have all seen movies, read books, and watched television—and we understand that a criminal jury decides the fate of the accused, meaning that the criminal jury sits and makes a judgment on whether that person is guilty or not guilty.
Where does the right to a jury come from?
The 6th Amendment of the United States guarantees each and every U.S citizen the right to a Jury Trial by an impartial jury. What that means is the judge and the lawyers involved in the case will question potential jurors in a jury selection process known as Voir Dire—creating a fair and impartial jury. In most states and jurisdictions, a criminal jury consists of twelve jurors, which means if you were accused of a crime, in order to be convicted, all twelve jurors must unanimously agree on a verdict—that you are guilty beyond and to the exclusion of any and all reasonable doubt. If they cannot agree, than that criminal jury is declared hung—meaning they cannot make a decision; and generally, you are tried again. Most states and jurisdictions have a set number of times you can be retried if there is a hung jury. Hung jury again meaning they cannot decide on a verdict. Generally, if there is a doubt, the judge will instruct the criminal jury that if they have a reasonable doubt, they must find the defendant not guilty.
So in a criminal jury trial, in most jurisdictions, we must have twelve jurors agree to a verdict of guilty or not guilty—but in some jurisdictions, on petty offenses, misdemeanors, or non-life felonies, some states, will allow six jurors. In all criminal cases, the jurors and the verdict must be unanimous.
The criminal defense attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. are fighting for our clients rights in criminal defense cases in Clearwater, Tampa, Bradenton, Spring Hill, Pinellas, Pasco, New Port Richey, Manatee, Hillsborough and Hernando Counties in Florida.
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Kevin Hayslett, Esq.
J. Kevin Hayslettis an attorney practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and DUI Defense from the Clearwater office and Hillsborough office. Kevin is an avid tennis player and is currently nationally rated in singles and doubles. You can follow Kevin onGoogle+, oron Radio IO on his show, "Kevin's Law". Kevin can also be heard on the Sirius Satellite Radio show during the "Ask the Lawyer" segment, which can be heard the first Thursday of every month.