One of the rights of some criminal defendants is having a trial before a jury of their peers. Many people think that this Sixth Amendment right is present in all criminal cases, but this isn’t the case. Defendants who aren’t facing at least six months in prison aren’t automatically afforded the right to a jury trial.
If you are considering pushing your case to a jury trial, you should understand that a jury of your peers doesn’t mean that you are going to have a jury full of people who are the same age, race, economic status or gender as you. Instead, the interpretation of a jury of your peers means that the jury will be comprised of people who represent a cross-section of your community.
Your attorney will have some measure of control over who is placed on a jury. During the jury selection process, the prosecution and the defense have the right to challenge the suitability of specific people in the jury pool. There are limits to this, so the decision to challenge based on specific measures are usually carefully considered.
When you choose to have a jury trial, you should understand the role of the jury. The jury will hear both sides of the case, receive instructions from the judge and determine whether you are not guilty or guilty.
Many criminal cases never see a jury trial because the majority of defendants choose to work on a plea deal to resolve the case. When a plea deal isn’t possible or if you aren’t willing to consider this option, you and your representation should discuss some of the possible outcomes and strategies that you can use in a jury trial.
Source: FindLaw, “What is the Role of a Jury in a Criminal Case?,” accessed Oct. 06, 2017