Regardless of the criminal charges that you’re facing, you have the right to have your case decided by a jury of your peers. Although that may seem like a beneficial choice to make, you have to be careful during the jury selection process if you hope to protect your interests as fully as possible. Therefore, before you proceed with jury selection in your case, you should take each of the following into consideration.
The risks of poor jury selection
The jury selection process is critically important, and for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most critical reason is because jurors come to the courtroom with biases and preconceived notions, any of which could put you at a disadvantage in your criminal case. In other words, if you’re not careful, then you could end up being convicted simply because the selected jury was biased against you.
How to competently choose your jury
When the jury pool is called into court, the attorneys will have the ability to ask each potential juror questions. These questions should be aimed at uncovering biases and any knowledge of the case that each potential juror already possesses. If you’re able to identify biases that could be disadvantageous to you, then you can ask that the potential juror be removed from the jury pool for cause. There’s no limit to the number of “for cause” challenges that you can make, so you’ll want to be thorough in your questioning of potential jurors so that you can weed out everyone who could put your case and your future at risk.
Another option at your disposal during the jury selection process is the peremptory challenge. Here, you can bounce a potential juror from the jury pool without providing an explanation. In other words, you can rely on your gut instinct here or any other factor that you think might be disadvantageous to you at trial.
You’re limited in the number of peremptory challenges that you can make, though, and they can’t be made on a discriminatory basis, such as a person’s race or class. So, even though you don’t have to provide an explanation for your peremptory challenges, you should still be prepared to provide some sort of justification in the event that the other side claims that your challenges violate the law.
Finalizing the jury
Once all for cause and peremptory challenges are made, the jury pool should be the requisite size. If it’s not, then the court may call in more potential jurors to ensure that the jury is full. In some instances, the court may even declare a mistrial and start the process all over again.
Competently navigate the intricacies of your criminal case
Every criminal case has a number of legal challenges that have to be confronted and overcome. Jury selection is one of them. If you make a misstep during any aspect of your case, then you could end up facing a negative outcome, which means that you could be stripped of your freedom.
With so much on the line, you owe it to yourself to put forth the strongest criminal case possible. This means knowing the rules of evidence, the trial rules, statutory and case law, and how to navigate through settlement negotiations and litigation. If you think that you could benefit from assistance in navigating your case, then now may be the time to sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your best course of action.