Criminal Jury Charges NJ
KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Fax) 732-572-0030 website:www.njlaws.com
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, the evidence in this case has been presented and the attorneys have completed their summations. We now arrive at that time when you, as jurors, are to perform your final function in this case.
At the outset, let me express my thanks and appreciation to you for your attention to this case. I would like to commend counsel for the professional manner in which they have presented their respective cases and for their courtesy to the court and jury during the course of this trial.
Before you retire to deliberate and reach your verdict, it is my obligation to instruct you as to the principles of law applicable to this case. You shall consider my instructions in their entirety and not pick out any particular instruction and overemphasize it.
You must accept and apply this law for this case as I give it to you in this charge. Any ideas you have of what the law is or what the law should be or any statements by the attorneys as to what the law may be, must be disregarded by you, if they are in conflict with my charge.
During the course of the trial, I was required to make certain rulings on the admissibility of the evidence either in or outside of your presence. These rulings involved questions of law. The comments of the attorneys on these matters were not evidence. In ruling, I have decided questions of law and, whatever the ruling may have been in any particular instance, you should understand that
it was not an expression or opinion by me on the merits of the case. Neither should my other rulings on any other aspect of the trial be taken as favoring one side or the other. Each matter was decided on its own merits.
When I use the term "evidence" I mean the testimony you have heard and seen from this witness box and the exhibits that have been admitted into evidence. Any testimony that I may have had occasion to strike is not evidence and shall not enter in your final deliberations. It must be disregarded by you. This means that even though you may remember the testimony you are not to use it in your discussions or deliberations. Further, if I gave a limiting instruction as to how to use certain evidence, that evidence must be considered by you for that purpose only. You cannot use it for any other purpose.
As jurors, it is your duty to weigh the evidence calmly and without passion, prejudice or sympathy. Any influence caused by these emotions has the potential to deprive both the State and the defendant(s) of what you promised them - a fair and impartial trial by fair and impartial jurors. Also, speculation, conjecture and other forms of guessing play no role in the performance of your duty.
NATURE OF INDICTMENT
The defendant(s) stand(s) before you on an indictment returned by the grand jury charging (him/her) with:
The indictment is not evidence of the defendant's guilt on the charge(s). An indictment is a step in the procedure to bring the matter before the court and jury for the jury's ultimate determination as to whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty on the charge(s) stated in it.
The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charge(s).
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, BURDEN OF PROOF, REASONABLE DOUBT
The defendant on trial is presumed to be innocent and unless each and every essential element of an offense charged is proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant must be found not guilty of that charge.
The burden of proving each element of a charge beyond a reasonable doubt rests upon the State and that burden never shifts to the defendant. The defendant in a criminal case has no obligation or duty to prove his/her innocence or offer any proof relating to his/her innocence.
The prosecution must prove its case by more than a mere preponderance of the evidence, yet not necessarily to an absolute certainty.
The State has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of you may have served as jurors in civil cases, where you were told that it is necessary to prove only that a fact is more likely true than not true. In criminal cases, the State’s proof must be more powerful than that. It must be beyond a reasonable doubt.
A reasonable doubt is an honest and reasonable uncertainty in your minds about the guilt of the defendant after you have given full and impartial consideration to all of the evidence. A
reasonable doubt may arise from the evidence itself or from a lack of evidence. It is a doubt that a reasonable person hearing the same evidence would have.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof, for example, that leaves you firmly convinced of the defendant's guilt. In this world, we know very few things with absolute certainty. In criminal cases the law does not require proof that overcomes every possible doubt. If, based on your consideration of the evidence, you are firmly convinced that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged, you must find [him/her] guilty. If, on the other hand, you are not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt, you must give defendant the benefit of the doubt and find [him/her] not guilty.
FUNCTION OF THE JURY
In my preliminary charge when we started the case, I explained to you that you are the judges of the facts and, as judges of the facts, you are to determine the credibility of the various witnesses as well as the weight to be attached to their testimony. You and you alone are the sole and exclusive judges of the evidence, of the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be attached to the testimony of each witness. Regardless of what counsel said or I may have said recalling the evidence in this case, it is your recollection of the evidence that should guide you as judges of the facts. Arguments, statements, remarks, openings and summations of counsel are not evidence and must not be treated as evidence. Although the attorneys may point out what they think important in this case, you must rely solely upon your understanding and recollection of the evidence that was admitted during the trial. Whether or not the defendant has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is for you to determine based on all the evidence presented during the trial. Any comments by counsel are not controlling. It is your sworn duty to arrive at a just conclusion after considering all the evidence which was presented during the course of the trial.
FUNCTION OF THE COURT
The function of the court is separate and distinct from the function of the jury. It is my responsibility to determine all questions of law arising during trial and to instruct the jury as to the law which applies in this case. You must accept the law as given to you by me and apply it to the facts as you find them to be.
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