Selecting a Jury in Criminal Cases
Florida law grants the right to trial by jury in all criminal prosecutions, which does not include traffic infractions. The defendant may waive this right, but the State must agree to having a “bench trial”, otherwise the case will remain before a jury. The clerk’s office compiles names of jurors from the Department of Human Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), taking anyone with a driver license registered within the Court’s jurisdiction. Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney Mark Lowry is a former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense attorney who has tried over 60 criminal jury trials. Contact the firm for a free consultation to discuss your case and ask questions today.
Once the case is called to trial, the first procedure is to pick the jury, called “Voir Dire”, Latin for “to speak the truth”. The judge, prosecutor, and attorney Mark Lowry will question the prospective jurors, called the “venire”, to determine mainly if they have any predetermined beliefs about either party, and help educate the panel on the law and procedure of the trial. For example, some jurors believe all defendants are guilty, while others don’t trust their government. Either instance is a predetermined belief that would keep that juror from being fair and impartial in deciding the facts of the case. Thus, the Court and parties ask that the venire “speak the truth”.
While the most common name for this process is jury selection, its actually inaccurate. After all questioning has taken place, the parties do not select who they want on the jury, but rather who they don’t want. Both parties get strikes to eliminate certain jurors they feel have biases toward their case. After all strikes are exhausted, or if both parties agree on a jury, the remaining names will be seated as jurors based on the Court’s numbering system of the venire. All misdemeanors and non-capital felonies seat 6 jurors and at least 1 alternate (capital crimes in Florida are first degree Murder and Sexual Battery on a Victim less than 12, which seat 12 jurors plus alternates). Alternates are in case a juror becomes sick or otherwise has to leave before a verdict is read. Opening statements are ready to begin.
If you or someone you love has been cited or arrested for anything, contact criminal attorney Mark Lowry immediately to help understand the criminal process and how to fight your charges. We offer affordable payment plans and 24 hour service 7 days a week.