People who are facing criminal charges, including those for drug-related crimes, might have their case resolved through a jury trial. This means that the prosecution and the defense both present their cases so the jurors can determine whether the person is guilty or not guilty.
The jurors must only issue a conviction if they are sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crimes. If they have any reasonable doubt, they shouldn't convict. The members of the jury can only consider what is presented at trial when they are coming up with their verdict. They can't think about what was in the media or online.
The right to a jury trial is covered by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. It guarantees that a person who is facing at least six months in prison can have a trial before the jury. The jury can't be comprised of just anyone. Instead, it has to be made of the defendant's peers, which means that it contains a sampling of the community.
Members of a jury are chosen through a process that involves the judge, defense attorney and prosecutor. During the voir dire, which is the official name of the process, each attorney can reject potential defendants using peremptory challenges, but the end result has to be a cross section of the community.
Jurors must listen closely to what is being said during the trial. When each side has presented their case, the jury receives instructions from the judge. They then go to a private room where they can discuss the case and determine what finding to issue. It is presented to the judge and then read in open court.