Right to a Jury Trial

If you are charged with a crime in state court that carries with it a possible term of jail of more than six (6) months incarceration, then you have several important rights.

Perhaps the most important of those rights is a right to a speedy trial and public trial by an impartial jury in accordance with the provisions of Article I, Sections 16 and 22 of the Constitution of the state of Florida (1968 revision), Rules 3.251 and 3.260 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Constitution of the United States of America.

In some cases, a person might sign a waiver of a jury trial form so that the case can proceed to a bench trial in front of a judge with no jury. If you give up your right to a jury trial, your case will be heard by a Judge sitting without a jury. That judge alone will decide the facts as well as the law in your case.

If you waive or give up your right to a jury trial by executing a written waiver, and later change your mind, you might not be entitled to reinstate your right to a jury trial in this cause.

Florida Statute Section 918.0157 – Right to Trial by Jury

Florida Statute Section 918.0157 explains the “Right to Trial by Jury” and provides: 

In each prosecution for a violation of a state law or a municipal or county ordinance punishable by imprisonment, the defendant shall have, upon demand, the right to a trial by an impartial jury in the county where the offense was committed, except as to any such prosecution for a violation punishable for a term of imprisonment of 6 months or less, if at the time the case is set for trial the court announces that in the event of conviction of the crime as charged or of any lesser included offense a sentence of imprisonment will not be imposed and the defendant will not be adjudicated guilty, unless a right to trial by jury for such offense is guaranteed under the State or Federal Constitution.

A jury is a group of qualified citizens selected and sworn to decide disputed issues of fact in a civil or criminal trial, according to the law and the evidence presented in court.

Jurors are chosen randomly from the Florida Driver Licenses Database of US citizens who are residents of the county and eighteen (18) years of age or older according to Section 40.221, Florida Statutes.

Each juror may serve only once in a calendar year.

In most cases, you have a right to six jurors. However, in a capital felony case, you have the right to twelve jurors as required by Section 913.10, Florida Statutes, and Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.270.

This article was last updated on Monday, August 14, 2023.