During the trial, the jury listens to and examines all of the evidence presented. Although jurors have historically not been allowed to ask questions during the trial, some jurisdictions do actually permit juror questions.
While some courts may allow jurors to take notes, the majority of courts do not allow this practice. Jurors may not discuss the case with anyone else, even other jurors, until deliberation begins.
Before jury deliberation, the jury receives instructions on the law related to the case and the implications of guilty or not guilty verdicts. Jury instructions may also tell jurors how to deal with certain types of evidence or testimony presented during the trial.
Jury instructions also help jurors understand the standards they must reach to convict defendants. The evidence must show beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants committed the crime.
In most states, the jury instructions are a standardized set of guidelines, also called pattern jury instructions, with the name and circumstances of the case filled in. The judge or Criminal Attorneys buffalo ny for both sides may be able to add additional instructions to cover issues specific to the case.
Jurors are not permitted to read, watch, or listen to outside news or discussion about the trial, such as newspaper, website, or TV coverage. They may not conduct their own research into the circumstances of the case or into the law.
In exceptional cases, if the jury does not reach an agreement at the end of the first day of deliberations, they may be required to stay in a hotel until the case is over, where their access to outside news and information is restricted.
Jurors are not allowed to accept money or other benefits from any parties in the trial or in exchange for their votes.
After Criminal Lawyers in Buffalo ny make the closing arguments, jury deliberations begin. Using the instructions given by the judge, the jury evaluates the trial evidence.
The jurors discuss whether the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty or not guilty of each of the charges. They may ask for clarification of law or evidence during the deliberations.
Criminal Lawyers in Buffalo New York know the jury’s decision must be unanimous; Oregon and Louisiana are the only states where non-unanimous criminal verdicts are allowed, and even then there are some restrictions on how they may be used.
If the jurors cannot agree on a verdict, the jury is considered “hung” and the case is declared a mistrial. Mistrial cases may be tried again later with a different jury, or the prosecutor may decide not to bring the case again, in which case the charges are dropped and the defendant goes free.