How Is A Jury Selected?

When facing a criminal charge, one of the most important constitutional rights a defendant has is a trial by a jury of our peers. The jury is tasked with finding the facts of a case after carefully reviewing the evidence and carefully deliberating. The question that often arises is how a jury is actually selected?
The first part in a jury selection process is known as random selection. The state or federal district will randomly pull names off of lists that the state keeps in the regular course of business. These lists could include a list of registered voters, a list of people who hold driver’s licenses, or a list of people receiving unemployment benefits.
Once your name is pulled from one of these lists, an individual will receive a notice in the mail informing him or her of the date they must go to court. The rules can vary by state, but unless you have some pressing reason to miss the first day of jury service, you generally have to go. A person can contact the court and inform them of a pressing issue, if they are unable to attend.
Voir Dire refers to the second stage of jury selection, and is the process by which the court and the attorneys narrow down the pool of juries to the 6 (for misdemeanor cases) or 12 (for felony matters) people that will decide the case. The process for voir dire varies from state to state, and even from judge to judge. Sometimes, if the juror pool is too large, the judge will randomly pick some people and excuse them from duty.
During the voir dire process, the judge and attorneys will interview each juror about their backgrounds and beliefs. Sometimes this happens in front of the rest of the jury pool, sometimes this happens in private. Each attorney has the chance to object to jurors. There are two types of objections which are known as: “peremptory challenges” and “challenges for cause.” When an attorney challenges a juror for cause, there was most likely something in the juror’s background that would prejudice them in the case. For example, it is likely that an attorney would not allow a prosecutor or a police officer to sit on a jury that decides a criminal case. In federal courts, each side has an unlimited number of challenges for cause. Attorneys do not need to give reasons for peremptory challenges, but each side only gets a limited number of these types of challenges. An attorney is not allowed to use peremptory challenges based on the race or gender of potential jurors.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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