picture taken by L.E. Spry
It is not uncommon for the jury to have questions for the judge during deliberations. One very common question is what will happen if the defendant is found guilty on these charges. One lawyer even told me that the jury asked the question that if they find the defendant guilty, can the judge not send the defendant to jail. The job of the jury is to weigh the evidence and not to determine the sentence a person should receive.
So once the verdict comes back, the job of the jury is pretty much over. Most judges will ask the court officer to escort the jury out before sentencing begins. For the most part, judges don’t mind the jury being in the room during sentencing. However, most judges will ask the court officer to escort the jury out prior to sentencing because most jurors want to leave. Some judges will let the jurors know that they can come back into the court room and sit in the audience if they are curious about what will happen to the defendant.
Whatever happens or whatever can potentially happen to a defendant isn’t something that juries should be concerned over during the trial. During the trial, the judge and attorneys take tremendous care to avoid bringing up information regarding potential penalties. Potential consequences to the defendant are irrelevant information in a criminal trial and could prejudice the defendant or even the prosecution.
Instead, the jury should focus on the evidence at trial and make a determination on whether the prosecution has met its burden. So, to answer the question posed in the title, the answer is no. In any criminal case, the jury usually has enough evidence to stay occupied. The last thing the jury should concern themselves with is the possible sentences to the charges.
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