If you’re facing criminal charges in Texas, your case could end in a dismissal, a plea bargain, or in a jury trial. If the case is not dismissed, you face the possibility of a negotiated plea bargain or a trial. Of course, if you’re innocent of the charges against you or if the prosecution’s case is weak, you may decide to proceed with a trial. If you decide to go through with a jury trial, your fate will be decided by a jury. If the jury finds you guilty, it will be up to the judge or magistrate to determine your sentence. If the jury finds you “not guilty,” you will be released immediately after the trial.
Courts: Jury is a Civic Duty
According to the Texas Judicial Branch, the United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution guarantee people the right to a jury trial. “That right has long been considered a fundamental safeguard of each American’s civil liberties,” says the Texas Judicial Branch. With the help of jurors, Texans’ constitutional rights to an impartial jury are protected. “Jury service is a privilege that offers the average citizen an unequaled opportunity to influence and deliberate over fundamental matters of justice,” says the Texas Judicial Branch. To that end, jurors must be fair to defendants, they must be impartial, and they cannot let their feelings or personal biases influence their decisions.
Jurors Are Mailed a Jury Summons
State law determines how prospective jurors are selected. The Secretary of State sends each county a list of individuals who:
- Live in the county
- Are registered to vote
- Hold a Texas driver’s license or ID card
The citizens on the list are randomly selected and mailed a jury summons, which tells them they need to report for jury service. Some counties mail out a questionnaire to possible jurors to qualify if they’re eligible before sending them a jury summons, while others send out the jury summons with the questionnaire. Just because someone receives a jury summons, it does not mean they will actually serve on a jury. If someone is qualified and they do not ask to be excused, he or she will participate in the “jury selection process,” which doesn’t take more than a day to complete. To qualify as a juror, an individual must:
- Be 18 or older
- A U.S. citizen
- Be able to read and write
- Not have a criminal record
- Not facing criminal charges
- Be qualified to vote in the county where they live
- A resident of Texas and the county where they are to serve as a juror
That’s the basics of jury service in Texas. If you’re facing criminal charges in Plano or Dallas, don’t hesitate to contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC for a case evaluation!