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Attorney Bryan E. Cameron

Do jury verdicts in New York have to be unanimous?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2020 | blog, Criminal defense

In most states, the jury’s verdict must be unanimous to convict a defendant. Before April 2020, Louisiana and Oregon didn’t require a unanimous decision, which caused thousands of people to be put behind bars. However, the Supreme Court ruled in April that all jury verdicts must be uncontested to result in a conviction regardless of the state. Now many people are wondering if the courts should rehear past cases as a result of this ruling.

Do all jury verdicts have to be unanimous?

As of April 2020, a verdict must be unanimous. But before the Supreme Court announced the ruling, judges sentenced thousands of people to jail after receiving non-unanimous guilty verdicts. This ruling affects all future criminal trials in the United States. However, many prisoners and people with a background in criminal defense are wondering if the ruling will apply to previous cases as well.

If the ruling is retroactive, potentially thousands of prisoners could be eligible for a retrial that may overturn their convictions. However, it seems unlikely that this ruling will apply to past cases. Multiple justices have noted that court rulings are rarely retroactive. Additionally, retrying thousands of prisoners could cause a major disruption in the court system, which is already overwhelmed and backlogged.

Still, another justice pointed out that the ruling should be retroactive because it could change the lives of thousands of prisoners. A prisoner involved in the case claimed that his trial was unfair, and he was a victim of racial injustice. Since his conviction wasn’t unanimous, he might have received a different sentence if the ruling had come earlier.

Should you hire an attorney to represent you in your case?

Navigating the court system can be challenging and stressful, particularly if you’re fighting a criminal charge. There’s no reason to do it alone. When you hire an attorney, you’ll gain access to tools and knowledge that could greatly impact the outcome of your trial. Many criminal defense attorneys have had their clients’ charges dismissed based on simple technicalities. A lawyer could help you with virtually any charge from small misdemeanors to major felonies.