Voir dire is one of the first procedural steps that occur when a criminal case goes to trial. During the voir dire process, the prosecutor and defense attorney directly interact with prospective jury members for the first time. In many cases, this process can leave potential jurors with lasting impressions about both the prosecution and the defense.
In any criminal case, the court may call 60 to 80 people to court for jury duty. The task during voir dire is for both the prosecutor and the defense attorney to have input into choosing a fair and impartial jury to hear the case. Each attorney has ten challenges for cause that they can use during voir dire to exclude prospective jurors from the case. Some of the most common difficulties for cause involve those potential jurors who:
- Have been convicted of a misdemeanor theft offense or a felony offense
- Are legally blind, deaf, or otherwise have a bodily or mental defect or disease that renders them unfit for jury service
- Are prejudiced or biased against or in favor of the defendant
- Have been involved in the case in some other way, such as a witness or grand juror member
Plus, some challenges for cause are unique to the prosecution and the defense. For instance, the prosecutor can challenge a prospective juror for cause if he or she is conscientiously opposed to the death penalty, and the case is a capital case in which the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty.
Additionally, each side has ten peremptory challenges during voir dire. When using these challenges to exclude prospective jurors, neither side is required to give a reason for excluding the juror. However, neither side can use peremptory challenges based on discriminatory factors, such as race or sex. If one side believes that the other has based a peremptory challenge on a discriminatory factor, then that attorney must object to preserve the issue in case of future appeals.
When you are facing any criminal charges in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.