Many people get their impressions of what a jury trial is like from what they see on television or in movies. But, as much drama as there may be in these scenes of harsh cross-examination of witnesses and impassioned arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys alike, there is one step that comes before all of this that can make or break a trial: the jury selection process.
Some people do not even realize that the prosecution, defense and the judge in a case all have a say in who will be a part of the jury that will, ultimately, hear and weigh the evidence presented. But, why is the jury selection process so important in a criminal case?
Well, first and foremost, it is important to realize that the individuals who make up a jury come into the case with their own life experiences, thoughts and opinions. One of the most crucial traits that all sides will look for in a potential juror is the ability to be unbiased – to keep an open mind about the case and give a fair shake to the evidence that is presented by all sides.
Unfortunately, finding jurors who can be unbiased is harder than it sounds. Even potential jurors who swear that they can be unbiased may have attributes that make them undesirable jurors: too strongly opinionated on other matters; family members who have been victims of crime; or even the type of job they have. All of these can factor into a person’s ability to weigh the evidence in a criminal case.
If you have been charged with a crime, you don’t want to face the trial alone. It may be in your best interest to contact a criminal defense attorney who can assist you during jury selection and throughout the trial.