In Utah every person charged with a crime above an infraction has the right to request a jury trial. The alternative to a jury trial is a bench trial meaning that the judge makes the decision to to guilty or innocence. Even if the defendant has the right to a jury trial however they can still elect to have a bench trial and in some cases it may make sense to have the judge be the decision maker and not a jury. One of the scariest parts about going before a jury is that while the idea is to have a jury of your “peers” you really never know who you’re going to get on your jury. While there are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties with a jury there are a couple of things a defense attorney can do in a jury trial to help get members on the jury who are more likely to find not guilty.
The Jury Selection Process
Jury selection or Voir Dire as it is also referred to is the process by which the court and the attorneys pick the jury members from a pool of individuals who have been summoned for jury duty. Each court usually does parts of the process differently but the general timeline is that a group of individuals is called into court and prepared to be jury members, they are then brought into the court and a random selection of them is chosen to be asked further questions. The judge will asks some questions of the jury members and then each parties’ attorney will have an opportunity to ask questions. Based on the answers to those questions the parties can ask that certain members be removed for cause (meaning they have a conflict of interest or personally know one of the parties, etc…) or the parties are also given a certain number of strikes that they can use to get rid of jury members for no reason at all. Once the parties use all their strikes then the remaining members will be the jury that tries the defendant.
Ogden Criminal Defense Attorney
Although a lot of criminal defendant’s cases are resolved before going to trial it is still important to have an experienced trial attorney on your case. The lawyers at Ogden Criminal Defense are experienced trial attorneys and we can help you know what to expect if you take your case to trial which helps you in making your decision to take a deal or not. Call or email us today to find out more about how we can help you.