In a Nevada criminal trial, the most stressful part of the proceedings for the defendant are the time when a jury returns a verdict. The case is out of your hands at that point, a decision has been reached on your fate, and you are simply waiting to find out what your future holds. Hopefully, you have had a good legal defense team who put on a strong case for you and you will be acquitted or found guilty of a lesser offense- but the outcome is unknown.
It is important, at this time, to make sure your rights are respected and that the proper process is followed. There are strict rules under Nevada law for the return of a verdict and you should know what is going to happen when the jury is done deliberating and is ready to render its decision. A Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer can provide you with guidance at this phase of the trial, as well as during all of the stages leading up to a verdict. An attorney can also provide you with guidance on what your options are for appealing if you are found guilty and you believe there were problems during the proceedings.
Nevada’s laws on criminal procedure provide detailed information on verdicts. One of the important rules related to the verdict in a criminal case is found in Nevada Revised Statute section 175.481. The relevant statute requires that a verdict by a jury be delivered in open court. The verdict also must be unanimous.
If the jury cannot come to a unanimous consensus that the guilt of a defendant has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, or come to a unanimous agreement that the prosecutor failed to prove the case, then the judge can send the jury back to deliberate further. If a reasonable amount of time has passed and the jury still cannot agree, the judge may make the assessment that there is no way the jury will agree. When this happens, the jury can be dismissed. This would be considered a mistrial and the prosecutor would have the discretion to begin again with a new trial against the defendant.
It is important to make sure that the jury has actually come to a unanimous consensus when a verdict is delivered to the court. A prosecutor or the defense can request that the jury be polled when a verdict is handed down. The court can also decide to poll the jury at its discretion. When the jury is polled, each individual member of the jury is asked about his position on the verdict against the defendant. If it turns out the decision was not actually unanimous, then the jury can be dismissed or could be sent back to deliberate further if it is likely that consensus could eventually be possible.
If the jury hands down a guilty verdict, you should not necessarily lose hope. There are options to appeal a criminal conviction which your attorney can discuss with you. If the jury acquits and hands down a not guilty verdict, then your ordeal is over. Double jeopardy will prevent the prosecutor from bringing a case against you in the future, and you will not have to stand trial again for the same offense.
Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.
A Las Vegas criminal defense attorney can provide invaluable assistance if you are accused of violating the law and you want to try to defend against the charges. Contact LV Criminal Defense today to find out how our legal team can help you try to work towards a not guilty verdict.