There are a lot of moving parts to a criminal case. It all starts with the initial investigation, where you need to be careful with how you interact with the police. There’s also the plea-bargaining stage and potentially litigation at trial. You need to know how to protect yourself during every stage of your case.
For example, if it looks like your case is going to trial, then you need to know about jury selection and how to effectively navigate the process.
Why you should be concerned about jury selection
The jury selection process may seem like nothing more than a logistical step that has to be taken before your case can head to trial, but it’s much more than that. In fact, the jury that’s chosen in your case can change the outcome.
This is because the men and women who are tasked with deciding whether the prosecution has met its burden of proof come to the courtroom with their own lived experiences and biases. Therefore, if you’re not careful, you could end up with a room full of jurors who personally despise people who work in your profession, hate people who have been accused of criminal wrongdoing, or are biased against people of your race, religion or ethnicity. You want to avoid that from happening at all costs.
How jury selection works
Fortunately, the jury selection process gives you the opportunity to identify those potential jurors who would be problematic for your case and try to remove them. There are two ways to do this through preliminary questioning of those potential jurors.
For cause challenges
The first way is making a “for cause” removal request. Here, after you and the prosecution ask questions of the potential juror, you can ask the court to remove the juror from the jury pool for a specific reason. The decision to remove the juror is ultimately up to the judge, which is why you need to be persuasive here. However, there’s no limit on the number of “for cause” requests that you can make.
The second way to remove a potential juror is to make a peremptory challenge. Here, you ask that a potential juror be dismissed without stating a reason. Although this is a powerful tool in preparing your case, you have to be careful in how you use these challenges because you can’t base your requests on any sort of discriminatory intent. Doing so could land you in trouble. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that you have a limited number of these challenges that you can make.
At the end of the process, you should have a full jury and some alternate jurors. If, however, there aren’t enough potential jurors to fill the jury at the end of the selection process, you’ll likely have to start over again. This can take some time, but it may be necessary to ensure that you’re protecting your right to a fair trial.
Do you need an attorney on your side?
The jury selection process can be incredibly nuanced. And it’s just one of the many issues that you’ll have to navigate in your criminal case. If you want to make sure that you’re protecting your interests as fully as possible in these matters, you may want to think about consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you craft the legal strategy that is best for you under the circumstances.