Anyone charged with a crime in Vermont is entitled to a jury trial.
Jury trials involve picking a jury from a pool of potential jurors with your attorney and the prosecutor. The judge presiding over the trial oversees the juror selection process. This process is commonly referred to a “picking a jury” or “jury draw” in Vermont criminal courts.
In most counties in Vermont, jury draw occurs once a month. Typically, the cases going to jury trials that month will take turns picking juries over one day. In rare cases jury draw can last days or weeks for a single case. Attorneys for the criminal defendant and for the State may ask the jurors questions about their backgrounds, their ability to weigh the evidence fairly, and their ability to follow the instructions of the judge. This process is called voir dire and is used throughout the American criminal justice system to establish a collection of individuals to comprise a jury.
The jurors selected for each case will come back at an agreed upon date to commence the trial. The trial may last a single day or may last for weeks or months.
Jurors are asked to evaluate the evidence presented and return a verdict. For a Defendant to be convicted of a crime the jurors must unanimously find the Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If a jury cannot come to a unanimous verdict the trial may be called “hung.” If jurors continue to be deadlocked a mistrial may be declared by the judge. This can result in a retrial at a later date before a new jury.
If you are weighing whether or not to take your Vermont criminal case to a jury trial, contact us for a free case evaluation.