Going to trial: Jury instruction and deliberation
When your Miami criminal defense attorney begins to prepare for your trial, he or she will have an ultimate goal – convincing a judge and jury that the charges filed against you don’t hold weight. Every witness called to the stand, each question they are asked – all of these actions are taken to demonstrate that the prosecution does not have a solid case against you.
If your case is being tried before a jury, the judge will give the six (or, for capital charges, 12) jurors specific instructions once both sides have presented their cases to the court. The jury will not be deliberating on the sentence you face, but on whether or not you are guilty of the charge against you, and, in certain circumstances, they may weigh in on the qualification of the crime (i.e., whether it is a first- or second-degree offense, etc.). This ruling can have a direct effect on the severity of your sentence.
“Both the defense and prosecution can submit preferred jury instructions to a judge,” LawFirms.com states, “but in the end, a judge will have the final and only word to jurors regarding their jury instructions. The judge is then tasked with explaining the legal principals, policies, and other factors to consider when deciding the issues of a case.”
As online legal resource Findlaw explains, the judge will likely do the following when addressing the jury:
- Provide legal definitions of the charges against you
- Read descriptions of related crimes (second- or third-degree variants, etc.)
- Specify facts the prosecution has to establish for you to be found guilty.
These individuals will then retire to the jury room to discuss your case. The time it takes for a jury to come to a decision varies from case to case.
To give yourself the best chance in a criminal trial, it is essential to enlist the aid of an experienced and tenacious Miami criminal defense attorney like Scott A. Ferris, Esq.