After both attorneys in a DUI / DWI trial have made their closing arguments, and the judge has given the jury their final instructions, the jurors are sent to deliberate the case.
This is the first opportunity the jurors have to discuss the case with one another. The jurors will elect a foreperson who oversees the deliberation process.
The jurors deliberate on all of the evidence presented throughout the trial. They decide which facts to consider, which to discount, and decide how much weight to give to each piece of evidence presented.
The jurors must follow the law as laid out in the instructions given to them by the judge. Jurors can send a note to the judge if they have any questions. They are also allowed to see certain pieces of physical evidence if they wish.
After deliberating for a certain period of time, the jurors will take a vote. If all agree, they have reached a verdict. If they do not yet agree, more deliberations will follow. When all jurors agree on a verdict, the bailiff is notified, and the jury returns to the courtroom to have the verdict read.
If all jurors agree in the defendant’s guilt, a guilty verdict is rendered. If all jurors agree in the defendant’s innocence, an acquittal or verdict of not guilty is returned.
If the jury cannot agree on a verdict, there is a hung jury. This is a win for the defendant. Many cases are dismissed following a hung jury. If the case is not dismissed, the prosecutor may offer a generous plea bargain. Although the case can be retried, the prosecutor rarely will want to do so.