Being selected for jury duty is part of your responsibilities as a citizen of this country. While most people view this as a negative task to complete, you should realize that serving on a jury is an honorable job that should be taken seriously. If you were selected to be on the jury for a criminal case, here are two important things you should know.
You cannot convict without 100% certainty
When the criminal lawyer presents his or her client's side of the story, the attorney's role is not to convince you that the defendant is innocent, but it is actually to convince you that there is not enough evidence to be completely certain that the defendant committed the crime. This attorney's job is to place reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.
This is important to know because it is easy to assume that a person is guilty, even before you hear the evidence. As a juror, you must remember that you cannot produce a guilty verdict unless you are absolutely sure that the defendant committed the crime, and this certainty must come from the admissible evidence presented in the courtroom.
This also means that any information you have heard through the press must be ignored in your decision of the case.
A verdict only stands if the jury is in complete agreement
You may have heard of the term "hung jury," but do you know what this means? A hung jury is a term that is used when a jury cannot reach a unanimous decision with a verdict. This means that there is a split decision among the jurors; some jurors believe the defendant is innocent, and some believe he or she is guilty.
When this happens, your time on the jury may come to an end because a hung jury results in a mistrial. A mistrial means that the court cannot reach a verdict for the case, and the case will then be tried again. You, however, will not be a member of the new jury that is responsible for hearing and deciding the case. The court will select a totally new panel of jurors, and the complete case will be retried.
Serving as a juror can be an interesting and fun event in your life, but it is also something that you should take seriously. To learn more about serving on a jury, or if you know someone that is about to go to trial for a criminal case, you may want to talk to a criminal attorney such as Cross, LaCross, & Murphy PLLC in your area.