If you are facing criminal charges, there is a high likelihood that your case will never go to trial. Your lawyer may be able to get the charges dropped. You may come to a plea deal with the prosecution. However, if none of these options are realistic for you, then you may find yourself going to trial.
At the beginning of this process, your attorney and the prosecutor will go through a voir dire – an interview process of potential jurors. During this examination, it’s important to uncover the right information to give you the best possible chances of a fair trial – and a favorable outcome for you.
You are allowed to be present during the voir dire – and give input to your lawyer on whom to select. Here are some things to look for:
- Body language: Does the juror sit slouched or upright? Do they have their arms crossed? Do they make eye contact with the person speaking to them? Are they dressed like they’re taking their jury duty seriously? All of these can be indicators of the potential juror’s commitment to their civic duty.
- Mood: In general, it’s a good idea to pick jurors who are in a good mood. Do they seem closed off? Do they only offer monosyllabic responses to questions? Do they seem guarded and unwilling to be open in their answers? Such behaviors can indicate that they don’t want to be there. If a juror seems apathetic – as though they just want to be done with jury duty and get back to their normal life – they could be more likely to push for a quick conviction.
- Personal details: Getting to know some personal information about a potential juror can give a glimpse into their values and beliefs – which could inform their verdict. Your lawyer should ask questions aimed at understanding the type of person a potential juror is – such as their areas of study, employment, interests and hobbies. Such information can help uncover their likely reactions to scenarios as well as potential biases.
Under Florida law, there is no time limit on how long a voir dire must take. Taking as much time as necessary to feel comfortable with the jury selection on your case can prove to be a critical decision in your trial’s outcome.