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jury deliberations in a criminal trial

closing arguments before deliberations

In Wisconsin, the State gives the first closing argument (summation) to the jury. The defense then gets to make a closing argument, after which the prosecutor gets the final word. If the defense makes a very brief, general closing argument or no argument at all, the State may not be allowed to give a second closing argument afterwards.

Alternate jurors dismissed or retained

Before deliberations begin, alternate jurors are either removed and asked to remain in the event of the illness of a deliberating juror, or alternatively, they are dismissed from the jury. If the alternate jurors are dismissed, and one of the final twelve jurors becomes ill, is involved in a car accident, or cannot attend deliberations for some other reason, a mistrial is declared. A court can dismiss some or all of the alternate jurors.

jury instructions

The judge provides the jury with instructions on how to conduct their deliberations, and how to select their foreman. In Wisconsin, the judge is also responsible for providing the jury with instructions on how to apply the law. The jury is also told that they may not find the defendant guilty is they have any reasonable doubt.

Jury deliberations begin

The jury then goes into a separate room, to begin deliberations. The jury is provided with a copy of the written jury instructions. During deliberations, the jury will have access to most exhibits introduced into evidence at trial.

Jury Votes & Decides

The jury foreman (or presiding juror) will hold a vote. The jury must unanimously decide on a single verdict, or no verdict can be returned. If they cannot decide on a verdict unanimously, the jury informs the judge. If a uninamous decision cannot be reached, the judge will declare a mistrial.

Verdict from the jury

When the jury has reached a unanimous verdict ( they must all agree on a verdict or no verdict can be returned), it notifies the court in writing, and they are brought back into open court to announce that verdict.

After the verdict is announced, the judge usually polls the jury by asking each juror to affirm the verdict as his or her own. After accepting the verdicts, the court usually dismisses the jurors with thanks, and then releases them.

The court then enters judgment on the returned verdicts.

If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict on one or more counts, the judge can also grant a mistrial on the basis of a hung jury, and then inquire if the prosecutor will retry the case. Depending on the verdict and several other factors, the defendant is either released outright, released on bond pending sentencing, or remanded into custody, in anticipation of a sentencing date.

See Also:
Criminal Trial Proceedings in Wisconsin | Jury Rules | Jury Procedures |
Double Jeopardy
| Witnesses | Hostile Witnesses |

Contact Van Wagner & Wood

If you are under investigation for a crime or drunk driving offense, if you have already been charged with a crime or drunk driving violation, or if you have already been convicted but believe your conviction or your sentence were wrong, call ( locally in Madison, Wisconsin, through Wisconsin) or e-mail ( ) the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away. They will give you a brief but professional first-impression analysis of your case and your situation, which will allow you to take an important first step in defending the case against you. You can also submit information about a criminal offense investigation or charge or a drunk driving OWI investigation or charge for a free case review.