Criminal Procedures

Trial Process

Do jury verdicts have to be unanimous?

Yes, jury verdicts in federal criminal cases must be unanimous. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 31(a) provides: “The jury must return its verdict to a judge in open court. The verdict must be unanimous.”

However, a few states do allow non-unanimous verdicts in criminal cases. The United States Supreme Court upheld a Louisiana law that allowed individuals to be convicted if at least 9 of 12 jurors voted for conviction. In Johnson v. Louisiana (1972), the Court reasoned that “disagreement of three jurors does not alone establish reasonable doubt, particularly when such a heavy majority of the jury, after having considered the dissenters’ views, remains convinced of guilt.”


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