March 9, 2015
Florida Criminal Law: Trial Jury in Florida
Note: Florida does NOT allow a twelve person jury unless the case is a death penalty case. This is a critical difference from what the public believes and the reality of law. The result is a less deliberative process more likely to produce erroneous convictions.
Florida Statue 913.03 to 913.15 Special jurors.
913.03 Grounds for challenge to individual jurors for cause.–A challenge for cause to an individual juror may be made only on the following grounds:
(1) The juror does not have the qualifications required by law;
(2) The juror is of unsound mind or has a bodily defect that renders him or her incapable of performing the duties of a juror, except that, in a civil action, deafness or hearing impairment shall not be the sole basis of a challenge for cause of an individual juror;
(3) The juror has conscientious beliefs that would preclude him or her from finding the defendant guilty;
Note: This is often very hard to determine, but can be done to a reasonable degree by a skilled advocate. However, there is virtually no way to get a fair trial in federal court as the lawyers are not allowed to question prospective jurors.
(4) The juror served on the grand jury that found the indictment or on a coroner’s jury that inquired into the death of a person whose death is the subject of the indictment or information;
(5) The juror served on a jury formerly sworn to try the defendant for the same offense;
(6) The juror served on a jury that tried another person for the offense charged in the indictment, information, or affidavit;
(7) The juror served as a juror in a civil action brought against the defendant for the act charged as an offense;
(8) The juror is an adverse party to the defendant in a civil action, or has complained against or been accused by the defendant in a criminal prosecution;
(9) The juror is related by blood or marriage within the third degree to the defendant, the attorneys of either party, the person alleged to be injured by the offense charged, or the person on whose complaint the prosecution was instituted;
(10) The juror has a state of mind regarding the defendant, the case, the person alleged to have been injured by the offense charged, or the person on whose complaint the prosecution was instituted that will prevent the juror from acting with impartiality, but the formation of an opinion or impression regarding the guilt or innocence of the defendant shall not be a sufficient ground for challenge to a juror if he or she declares and the court determines that he or she can render an impartial verdict according to the evidence;
(11) The juror was a witness for the state or the defendant at the preliminary hearing or before the grand jury or is to be a witness for either party at the trial;
(12) The juror is a surety on defendant’s bail bond in the case.
Note: As you can see, most of these things almost never happen.
913.08 Number of peremptory challenges.–
(1) The state and the defendant shall each be allowed the following number of peremptory challenges:
(a) Ten, if the offense charged is punishable by death or imprisonment for life;
(b) Six, if the offense charged is punishable by imprisonment for more than 12 months but is not punishable by death or imprisonment for life;
(c) Three, for all other offenses.
Note: Case law limits peremptory challenges.
(2) If two or more defendants are tried jointly, each defendant shall be allowed the number of peremptory challenges specified in subsection (1), and the state shall be allowed as many challenges as are allowed to all of the defendants.
913.10 Number of jurors.–Twelve persons shall constitute a jury to try all capital cases, and six persons shall constitute a jury to try all other criminal cases.
913.12 Qualifications of jurors.–The qualifications of jurors in criminal cases shall be the same as their qualifications in civil cases.
913.13 Jurors in capital cases.–A person who has beliefs which preclude her or him from finding a defendant guilty of an offense punishable by death shall not be qualified as a juror in a capital case.
Note: The practical effect of this is that jurors are predisposed to convict and impose death.
913.15 Special jurors.–The court may summon jurors in addition to the regular panel.
This section of Florida law is provided for informational purposes only. This section does not include case law construction and is not intended to constitute legal interpretation nor advice.