The jury who presides over your criminal case holds your fate in their hands. Will the jury determine the prosecutor has proved the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt or will the jury acquit?
The answer to this question is going to depend upon the strength of the prosecutor’s case but it will also depend in large part on who is on the jury and on how good of a defense you put forth.
Jury selection is one of the most important parts of the trial process. You are entitled to a fair trial which a jury of your peers presides over. The jury pool is vast and you may be able to use the jury selection process to try to get a jury that is as favorable as possible to you. The key to doing this, however, is to understand the Nevada laws for jury selection and to understand what types of characteristics would likely make a potential juror more likely to acquit.
At LV Criminal Defense, our experienced legal team excels at the jury selection process. We have in-depth knowledge of Nevada rules for jury selection and we know how to try to get the best jury possible for our clients facing criminal charges. You need a lawyer to help you with the jury selection process to ensure that you are making the most strategic choices possible when it comes to questioning jurors and challenging potential jurors and our Las Vegas defense firm is there every step of the way to ensure the process goes smoothly.
The Nevada Rules for a trial by jury or trial by court are found within Chapter 175. The relevant code sections include N.R.S. 175.011 through N.R.S. 175.101. The laws in Nevada found within these statutes address everything from the number of people on a jury to the examination of potential jurors to what happens if the judge becomes disabled during trial to the process for discharging a jury that has presided over a case.
N.R.S. 175.011 explains the circumstances under which a trial by jury takes place. According to the relevant law, most district court cases must be tried by a jury except in situations where the defendant provides a written waiver of the right to a trial by jury. The waiver of the right to a jury trial has to be approved by the court and the district attorney prosecuting the state’s case has to agree.
If the defendant has been charged with a capital offense and is pleading not guilty, he cannot waive his right to a jury trial and a jury must decide whether to acquit or find the defendant guilty.
If a case is in justice court instead of district court, a defendant will have a trial by jury only if the defendant demands such a trial in writing at least 30 days before the case is supposed to commence. If a defendant demands a trial by jury, a court reporter must be present to record the trial.
Several of the provisions of the Trial By Jury or Court section of Chapter 175 of Nevada’s revised statutes specifically address the technical and practical issues of selecting a jury. For example, N.R.S. 175.021 mandates that there must be at least 12 jurors a jury to preside over a criminal case, unless the case is tried in justice court, in which case there must be at least six members for the prosecution to move forward.
The formation of the jury is the same for criminal cases as for civil cases, and parties may stipulate before proceedings commence that they do not require a full 12 jurors. If parties so stipulate, the jury could be made up of fewer people than 12 but it cannot ever have less than six jurors.
As a jury is formed, plaintiffs and defendants have the right to conduct an examination of potential jurors. Rules for this examination are set forth in N.R.S. 175.031. The court conducts the preliminary investigation and asks jurors questions designed to determine their ability to be impartial arbiters of the case before them. The district attorney or the defense may supplement the questions being asked by the court.
Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.
If the answers to the questions reveal a personal relationship between any juror and the defendant or prosecutor; or if the answers reveal any other relationships or beliefs which prevent the juror from giving the defendant a fair and impartial trial, the juror would be excused for cause. There are many different reasons to challenge a juror for cause, as defined in N.R.S. 175.036.
Defendants and prosecutors also have a set number of peremptory challenges, which means a juror could be challenged by the prosecutor or defense and excused from serving on the jury without the prosecutor or defendant providing an explanation for why the juror should not serve.
Making strategic decisions and understanding the Nevada rules for criminal trials are the two keys to trying to avoid a conviction if you’ve been charged with a crime. You’ll need to make a choice on whether you should exercise your right to a trial by jury or whether it makes sense to request a bench trial in which the judge decides the outcome of your case. You’ll also need to ensure you understand all of the Nevada rules for juries so you can try to get a jury which is going to be as favorable as possible to your case.
Nick is here to provide you with comprehensive assistance at all phases of your criminal trial. We represent clients in Las Vegas and in surrounding areas in both jury and bench trials and we know the rules of Nevada criminal procedure so we can help you to navigate the criminal justice system no matter what type of trial is right for you. Our firm has also devoted extensive time and effort to developing a deep knowledge of effective jury selection techniques to try to help clients put together juries which are least likely to convict.
To learn more about how a Las Vegas criminal defense firm can help with your trial by jury, give us a call as soon as possible after you’ve been charged with a crime.