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What is a jury’s purpose in a criminal trial?

Everyone who is facing criminal charges has a constitutional right to have their case decided by a jury of their peers if a conviction could result in an incarceration period of 6 months or longer. If you are considering having your case determined by a jury, you should understand the jury’s purpose and function.

Why is the jury important?

The jury is important in criminal cases because it serves as a check of sorts to prevent prosecutors from putting innocent people behind bars. Of course, there are still instances in which people are wrongfully convicted. Those instances would likely be more prevalent without jury involvement. Additionally, the jury ensures fairness that isn’t possible if a judge were to decide every case that comes before the court.

What are the drawbacks of a jury trial?

The people on the jury are laypeople. Many of these people don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice system or the legal concepts that are used in a criminal trial. This means that there might be some points introduced in the trial that are difficult for members of the jury to understand. It is also possible that the members of the jury might let emotions sway the verdict that is handed down.

There are often other ways to resolve a criminal case. It is important that you explore them all, including possible plea arrangements, if you are facing charges. Some of these other options might result in an outcome that is more preferable. You should think carefully about how each option might affect your future.

Source: FindLaw, “What is the Role of a Jury in a Criminal Case?,” accessed June 09, 2016

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