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Juries Must Be Unanimous In Criminal Trials

If you’ve been charged with a DUI of any sort, it’s always best to seek the assistance of a professional DUI attorney who understands the laws and can help you fight for the best possible scenario for your unique situation.Every lawyer, and most people, assumed under the law that juries had to be unanimous (all 12 votes if in a jury trial in California) in order to convict a person of a crime.   Defense counsel has argued that unanimity is a required admonition to a Defendant prior to taking a plea.  In fact, this defense attorney has argued about prior convictions that such a conviction is not constitutional or valid unless the court advised the defendant prior to taking a plea that he had a right to a jury trial, he could participate in the selection of the jurors, and that the verdict must be unanimous.

Even though I have been practicing criminal law for 49 years and going to trial defending people charged with crimes, I was not aware that two states – Louisiana and Oregon – allowed for nonunanimous convictions.  The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that such procedures were unconstitutional in a case entitled Ramos v. Louisiana (2020).  In Ramos the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a prior decision from 1972 (Apodaca).

The Ramos decision raises new issues, i.e., whether the rule of law of a unanimous jury in spite of state procedures applies retroactively or to all cases concerning nonunanimous opinions.  It becomes a procedural question and is left for another day.

Contact me today if you’ve been charged with a DUI in Los Angeles.

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