Jury selection occurs when the prosecution and the defendant select a panel of jurors to try the defendant's case. The jurors are usually selected from a pool of citizens who have been required to appear at trial and perform jury service. The number of jury on the jury panel varies from state to state and each side gets a chance to remove jurors that they feel might be unfair. The jury selection process is known as voir dire.
After the attorneys select a jury, the lawyers for the prosecution and the defendant are offered the chance to speak to the jury and explain to the jury what the evidence at trial is expected to show. The defense may or may not make an opening statement to the jury.
The prosecution presents their case during the case-in-chief. During the prosecution case-in-chief, the prosecution presents witnesses and other evidence to try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the charged offenses.
The prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant need not testify at trial nor present any evidence. However, the defense may present evidence, if desired, after the prosecution rests its case-in-chief.
Both the prosecution and the defense present their summaries of the case during argument. Argument usually consists of the parties' reasonable inferences of what the evidence did or did not prove to the jury.
The trial court instructs the jury on the law governing the case. The instructions are usually standard instructions formulated by judges and attorneys and are published in books. Often, the judge gives the jurors a copy of the instructions to take into the jury room during deliberations.
Deliberations and Verdict
After the trial court instructs the jurors, the jurors are secluded and sent to a jury room where they deliberate about what happened in the case. The jurors determine the facts according to the law and, if they can agree, they reach a verdict. If the jurors cannot agree, then they are "deadlocked" and must notify the judge that they cannot reach a decision.
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