California jury trial selection

The right to a jury trial is a fundamental principle of the American justice system. While most cases in California do not go to trial, every defendant in every criminal case has the right to demand a trial where they will be judged by a jury of their peers. But the vast majority of my clients have never had a criminal attorney explain to them exactly what happens at a jury trial. As a former Los Angeles and Orange County prosecutor and as a current criminal defense attorney, I have tried over 50 cases to verdict across southern California. An experienced criminal defense trial attorney is an absolute necessity if you are facing criminal charges. The reality is that you will not receive the best possible offer before trial if the prosecution does not believe that your defense attorney is a capable and willing trial opponent. Below is a summary of the initial stage of the criminal trial process, jury selection.

In a criminal trial, the first step in the trial process is jury selection. Jury selection is a critical component of the trial process as these are the actual people who will be making a judgment of the facts and whether the prosecution has proven you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  The judge has the power to strike certain jurors if the court finds that they are unable to be fair or if another reason exists why they can not serve as jurors on the case. These jurors are excused “for cause”. Both the defense and prosecution are then entitled to excuse jurors for whatever reason they wish to do so if those reasons are not based upon race, ethnicity or gender. The number of challenges given to each side will depend on the specific charges as well as the number of defendants. Each side does not need to use all their allotted challenges and may tell the judge along the way that they are satisfied with the current makeup of the jury. After both sides consecutively indicate that they are satisfied with the jury, the court will swear in the jury and then select several alternate jurors to be ready to fill in if a sitting juror must be excused during the trial. After the alternates are also sworn in, the trial is ready to begin.

The art of picking a jury can only be learned through actual trial experience. In areas as diverse as Los Angeles and Orange County, jurors will come from backgrounds that range across the entire spectrum of wealth, race, gender, employment, and multiple other factors. I feel that my diverse background in both my professional and personal life has provided me with a unique skill set that is particularly effective in southern California. Your attorney is the lens through which each juror will hear and see your defense. If a juror does not like or understand an attorney’s actions, then this will absolutely have an impact on their decision. I know from firsthand experience that jurors will consider issues outside of the case when making their decision. Contact me today to to learn how my experience as an awarded criminal defense trial attorney in courthouses ranging from Inglewood and Compton to Torrance and Newport Beach can be put to work for you in the fight for your freedom and reputation.


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