Jury selection is one of the most critical elements of a Pennsylvania DUI trial. Clearly, having open-minded, fair jurors to determine the outcome of your driving under the influence case is one of the factors that may mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. An experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney from Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will take every step possible to seek the most impartial jurors in your driving under the influence case.
In order to convict you of a Pennsylvania DUI, the jury must unanimously agree that the district attorney has proven each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If even one member of the jury has reasonable doubt about your guilt, you cannot be convicted of a Pennsylvania DUI.
If all of the jurors in your Pennsylvania DUI trial cannot agree on a unanimous verdict, the jury is hung. A hung jury can be a victory for the defense. The district attorney may not opt to refile the case against you, and, if so, the charges will be dismissed. If only one juror has reasonable doubt in your guilt, a hung jury can occur.
The jury selection process begins when a group of prospective jurors is sent into the courtroom. The prospective jurors will be asked to stand, raise their right hands, and swear to answer all questions truthfully.
The judge will ask if any of the potential jurors have possible conflicts that would prevent them from serving as jurors on your Pennsylvania DUI trial. The clerk will then call a group of prospective jurors at random and direct them to sit in the jury box.
The judge in your Pennsylvania DUI case will typically ask each juror for the answer to basic questions such as occupation, city of residence, marital status, etc. The judge may also ask whether each prospective juror has served on a jury in the past and if so, whether the panel was able to reach a unanimous verdict.
The prospective jurors are also asked to fill out questionnaires meant to determine whether the individual can be fair and impartial. The judge may ask each prospective juror to read their answers aloud and elaborate if necessary.
Excusing a juror who seems biased isn't as easy as it may seem. Even prospective jurors who have been hit by accused drunk drivers, for example, will be asked by the judge if they can decide your case fairly. If they say they can, they aren't likely to be excused, unless such jurors are challenged "for cause."
After the judge has questioned the prospective jurors, both the district attorney and your Pennsylvania DUI lawyer will be allowed to ask them questions. This is a very important stage in your driving under the influence trial, because it's your Pennsylvania DUI attorney's first chance to build a rapport with the prospective jurors. It's critically important for your Pennsylvania DUI attorney to make a good first impression with the jurors in order to build good will toward you.
Once your Pennsylvania DUI attorney has asked questions of the prospective jurors, the district attorney is given the same opportunity. Each side will then have a chance to excuse individual jurors for cause outside of their presence. Both sides will then use their peremptory challenges, meaning they can thank and excuse jurors without stating a reason. Once both sides have accepted all 12 individuals in the jury box or used up all of their peremptory challenges, the jury in your Pennsylvania DUI case is selected.
An experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney from Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. knows that the jury selection process is a crucial phase in your driving under the influence trial, and will use the opportunity to create a rapport with jurors, introduce key concepts, and make a good first impression on your behalf.
Please call us for a free consultation to discuss the DUI litigation process.