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The right to a trial by an impartial jury of your peers is thought of as fundamental to our criminal justice system. But does it always work out that way? As it turns out, only some offenses require jury trials, and even some of those may end up in front of a judge instead. And what about verdicts -- are juries allowed to rule anything they want?
Here's everything you need to know about juries in criminal cases, from our FindLaw archives:
As we noted above, not all crimes warrant jury trials. They are only required for "serious offenses," and their numbers and whether they need to be unanimous may vary by state.
In some states and federal court, a jury is convened to decide whether prosecutors have enough even to justify the charges they are filing. If a grand jury delivers an indictment, the case may proceed.
While juvenile defendants don't have a constitutional right to a jury trial, they may be entitled to one based on the charges or their criminal record.
Just because you have the right to a jury trial, does that mean you must have a jury trial? It turns out you may have options.
And there may be benefits to having a judge try your case rather than a jury. Find out why you might choose one over the other.
As much as we would like juries to make their decisions based solely on the facts of the case, the reality is jurors make the same snap judgments about personality, character, and sometimes guilt that we all do.
For the most part, jurors have to rely on the attorneys from both sides to get the facts out of evidence and witnesses. But every now and then they can step in with questions of their own.
In baseball, they say a tie goes to the runner. But what about criminal trials? Find out what effect a hung jury has on criminal charges.
It's a little-known rule, but juries have the power to free a defendant, even if they think he committed the crime. So how does jury nullification work?
Your best resource for questions about a criminal jury and how it might apply to your case is an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you've been charged with a crime, contact one in your area today.