What to Expect During a Jury Deliberation

By David Hammond

The criminal justice process can seem like a complex whirlwind of activity. It can be difficult to keep up. This can cause even more anxiety for a person facing criminal charges. One of the most important steps in the process is jury deliberation. This takes place after both sides have fully presented their cases and the jury goes to render a verdict. Here, we explain a bit more about what you can expect during a jury deliberation.

What to Expect During a Jury Deliberation

At the end of trial, after both sides have given closing arguments, the presiding judge gives jury instructions. These instructions inform the jurors as to the legal standards they are tasked with applying as they decide whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. After jury instructions have been given, the jury convenes for deliberations.

Prior to deliberations, the jury selects a foreperson who is responsible for presiding over the deliberations and, when a verdict is reached, will deliver the verdict in the courtroom. After a foreperson is selected, deliberations commence as the jury goes through all of the evidence that was presented at trial. The foreperson works to focus the review and ensuing discussion. The foreperson also has the critical task of making sure all members of the juror are applying the jury instructions provided to them by the judge.

The jurors can take deliberation time to debate the evidence of the case. Jury members are not allowed to access any outside resources, including the internet. In fact, it is considered to be juror misconduct to consider evidence that was not presented at trial. Such misconduct will likely result in a mistrial and the case will have to be heard in totality by a new jury. Should anyone have questions requiring clarification, they may submit the question to the court to get further clarification.

Once all the evidence has been reviewed with care and the appropriate legal standards provided in the jury instructions have been applied, the foreperson calls for a vote on the verdict. Should a consensus be received from the vote, then the verdict is then delivered to the court. In most cases, the court provides the jury with written forms that have all possible verdicts on them. When the jury has arrived at a decision, the appropriate verdict form need only be selected from the pile.

Most criminal cases require a unanimous jury vote. Every federal case requires a unanimous decision. If the jury vote is split, the jury will continue to deliberate. Should the jury be unable to reach a consensus by the end of the day, they may be sequestered in some rare cases, which means they will be housed in a hotel and prohibited from contact with other people and news sources. Most of the time, the jury will just be sent home with instructions not to discuss the case with anyone and to avoid news reports on the case.

Should the jury be unable to render a verdict, it is deemed to be “hung.” This means there is a mistrial. Should the government wish to continue pursuing charges, then a new trial will be conducted before a new jury. In some cases, however, the government may decide not to pursue the charges any further.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you most likely have many questions about the process. CDH Law is here with answers. You can count on our knowledgeable team of criminal defense attorneys. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.