Jurors may be spaced around the courtroom, among other adaptations.
If you have been charged with a crime in the state of California, you have a right to trial by jury. As COVID-19 forces shut downs and closures across the state, jury trials will likely look very different.
Typically, if you choose to exercise your right to trial by jury, a jury of twelve people — your peers — will sit together in a jury box to hear evidence and arguments during a trial. The phases of a jury trial include:
Evidence (witness testimony and physical evidence)
Sentencing (if necessary)
Criminal trials during the pandemic will have the same basic components. However, according to a criminal defense attorney in Riverside, CA, there will likely be significant adaptations to make the process safe for everyone involved, from the judge and courtroom staff to the defendant, attorneys, and the jury.
As attorney Dan E. Chambers outlines in this video, criminal trials have largely been put on hold during the pandemic. However, some courts are starting to hold trials in criminal cases in certain areas of the state (particularly those that have a lower rate of infection than most of Southern California). While we don’t know exactly what jury trials will look like in Riverside County, these early trials may provide some insight into what to expect.
The biggest change will be how people are situated in the courtroom. jurors will likely be spread out across the courtroom, rather than sitting beside each other in the jury box. This may mean that 4 of the 12 jurors are in the jury box, while 4 sit in the audience section of the courtroom, and the remaining 4 sit in other parts of the room. This may make it challenging for attorneys to effectively make their arguments, as they may have their backs to at least some jurors — or the judge — no matter which way they stand. Your criminal defense attorney in Riverside, CA will use their experience and knowledge of best trial practices to adjust as necessary.
In addition, attorneys may be required to make their arguments and ask questions from somewhere other than where they normally do in order to accommodate social distancing. In one recent case, a lawyer gave his opening argument from the witness stand. If there are multiple defendants in a criminal trial, the logistics will become even more complicated.
Like other aspects of our lives, the criminal justice system has been significantly impacted by the novel coronavirus. If you are currently facing criminal charges, you may understandably nervous about what will happen if your case goes to trial. At the Chambers Law Firm, we work with our clients so that they understand what will happen during trial. We will also use our substantial trial experience to put together a strong defense, regardless of how the courtroom may look. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, reach out today at 855-397-0210 or email@example.com.