Can My Lawyer Object to Jury Instructions?

A jury consists of a peer group from the community. Its responsibility is to decide whether a defendant is innocent or guilty of the crime he is charged with. While the members of a jury are selected for their potentially unique perspectives on a crime, they often have very little knowledge of the law.  Before a criminal trial, they are given a series of instructions on how to process the information that is presented to them. Both the defense and the prosecution can object to the court’s instructions to the jury. By objecting to instructions, the attorneys can redirect the members of the jury. This can result in a more favorable outcome for the defendant.

Common Objections to Jury Instructions

Any attorney who objects to instructions does so in the presence of a jury unless it could hurt his chances of winning the case. In this situation, the attorney would approach the judge’s bench to make the objection. A judge can also sequester a jury at the request of an attorney.

Some common objections to jury instructions include:

  • Flawed or confusing instructions
  • Failing to offer instructions

All objections must be legally explicit, on the record and presented in a timely manner. This is important as issues can be raised if the defendant requests an appeal.

How to Object to Jury Instructions

Attorneys must be very specific when they object to jury instructions. In each instance, the objector must specify the legal concerns of the request and how it could potentially impact the outcome of a case. A judge must consider each request to ensure that the defendant gets a fair trial.

When to Object to Jury Instructions

Objections to jury instructions must be made immediately and addressed before the jury deliberates the verdict. After the jury has been sequestered to contemplate guilt or innocence, it is too late to object to the instructions that are provided by the judge. The jury members hear the court’s instructions right before deliberating. A well-constructed objection could make a big difference in the outcome of the case and may establish grounds for a defendant to appeal.

To learn more about objections to jury instructions, contact Madrid Criminal Law by calling 713-877-9400.