Jury Nullification

“A jury in a criminal trial shall be instructed that it is empowered to issue a verdict of ‘not guilty’ despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged.”


With this concept, the jury “nullifies” a criminal statute that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the specific defendant whose fate and destiny is in their hands. 


Here is a good example where this concept could be applied:  “Person A” comes home to find his spouse and children being victims of a violent and fatal crime.  He sees the perpetrators (who are wearing masks and whom Person A cannot identify) who attack him too, but then Person A grabs a gun and shoots but misses (this is self-defense).  The masked perpetrators then run away, but Person A shoots them while they are running away (no longer self-defense), and he happens to shoot them from behind piercing vital organs and killing the masked perpetrators.  The prosecutor then charges Person A with multiple counts of homicide.  In a situation like this, Person A’s fatal shots were not self-defense and technically is “guilty” under the law.  But the jury may decide that the facts of this specific case (spouse and children murdered by masked perpetrators who cannot be identified) are such where applying the statute to this person with these facts would be wrong, thus they may decide to reach a verdict of “not guilty”.     

edited on Mar 4, 2015 by Emma McNulty
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