How Jury Selection Works in a Florida Criminal Case
If you’re arrested on certain crimes in Florida, there’s a chance that the issue of guilt will be decided by a jury. According to the Rules of Criminal Procedure,12 individuals will act as juror in capital cases and six members sit as a jury in all other criminal cases. As such, many criminal defendants will want to know how these individuals are chosen. The process is quite complicated, so it’s wise to trust a Florida criminal defense attorney to represent you in any criminal case. However, you might find it useful to review some details about how jury selection – i.e., voir dire – happens.
Initial Questioning by the Judge and Lawyers
Before you walk into the court room, there will be a selection process that leads to dozens of people sitting as potential jurors. From this point, the judge will take the opportunity to make sure these individuals are legally qualified to act. After these initial screening questions, the prosecutor and your attorney will have the chance to dig deeper. The point of additional questions is to pinpoint whether any potential jurors have any biases or issues in their background that could cloud their judgment – and prevent a fair, reasonable position on your case.
Challenging Potential Jurors
Through questioning, it may become obvious that a potential candidate isn’t fit or appropriate to be on the jury. Both the prosecutor and your lawyer can raise challenges “for cause,” on the grounds that there is:
- Actual Bias: A person cannot act as a juror if he or she bears some bias on account of religion, race, gender, or other improper motivations.
- Implied Bias: In other situations, an individual may be inappropriate because of bias that’s more indirect. For instance, someone who was a victim of rape may not be suitable to sit as juror in a sexual assault case because of implied bias.
Final Selection for Voir Dire
Each side in a criminal case is still allowed peremptory challenges, which means that a lawyer can strike a juror for any reason – or no reason. Beyond this stage, there may still be challenges regarding who serves as a member of the jury. In hotly contested cases, the prosecutor and defense attorneys may go back and forth on the selection process. Ultimately, the goal for both sides will be for the jury to represent a fair demographic composition of members of the relevant community. If it comes to the point where all potential jurors are crossed off, the judge will bring in new potential candidates.
A Skilled Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Assist at Trial
Unless you’re ready to get into the details of picking members of a jury and going through voir dire, it’s in your best interests to rely on an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle the process. The makeup of the jury matters more than you think. For more information, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik. Our team can set up a consultation to discuss how we can defend your interests – long before the jury selection process beings.