In Florida, and throughout the country, jury selection is a critical process in criminal litigation. If done properly, favorable jury selection will maximize your ability to avoid criminal liability and will position you advantageously in negotiating a potential compromise solution without having to continue to trial.
Basics of Jury Selection
The jury selection process can be split into two main phases: 1) an initial sampling of the population of a given locality, and 2) the specific selection of jurors from that larger sampling of people.
Every criminal defendant in Florida enjoys a right to have their jury be a representative group of people. Whether a given cross-section of society qualifies as “representative” will generally be evaluated in terms of broad categories, such as ethnicity, religious belief, gender, age, and other identity markers. For example, if you are a Catholic Hispanic person, then a jury that does not have any Catholics or Hispanics — particularly in Florida, where the population of most cities includes significant numbers of Catholic Hispanic persons — then that may be unconstitutionally unfair.
After the larger sampling of people has been selected, those jurors are brought in for a second phase in which the attorneys from each side will begin the process of selecting jurors from that group. In doing so, your defense attorney will have to tread the waters carefully to ensure that they can “test their defense theory” against certain jurors by revealing certain facts about the case and determining whether the juror would be willing to consider your innocence.
Limited Number of Peremptory Strikes
In Florida, attorneys have a limited number of peremptory strikes that they can use to remove a juror, even without cause. For example, if your attorney gets the sense that one of the jurors will not be fair to your case (even if this is just an instinctive feeling about the juror), then they can use one of their peremptory strikes to remove them from the selection pool.
Striking a Juror for Cause
Attorneys have no limit on the number of for-cause strikes, however. If a juror is incapable of serving on the jury due to deep bias, health issues, or perhaps even a fundamental disagreement about the application of the law in question, then a for-cause strike may be appropriate.
Contact Fowler Law Group for Guidance
Here at Fowler Law Group, our team of Sarasota criminal defense attorneys has extensive experience advocating on behalf of defendants throughout Florida.
We regularly try cases to conclusion, and as such, we are well-positioned to navigate the complex and rather hostile environment that is the jury selection process. If effectively managed, proper jury selection can increase the likelihood of the defendant’s success in litigation.