When jurors report to the judge that they cannot agree in sufficient number to deliver a verdict (usually unanimity), the jury is said to be “deadlocked” or a “hung jury”. Judges faced with this situation will exercise their discretion as to how to proceed.
Often, the first time a jury reports being deadlocked, the judge will issue further instructions and encourage them to continue deliberating. This instruction may be referred to as the “Allen charge” (taking its name from the Supreme Court case of Allen v. U.S., 164 U.S. 492 (1896) that permitted such instruction), a dynamite charge, or with other terminology. A model Allen charge can be read here.
While such an instruction may strongly imply or outright state that the jury is required to come to the necessary consensus to deliver a verdict, this is not the case. Individual jurors are obligated to prioritize their conscientiously held beliefs above coming to a consensus.
As a juror, you should deliberate in good faith, but you should NOT change your verdict for the sake of compromise. Likewise, you should not convict on some charges just to acknowledge that the prosecutor made an effort. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove each and every charge beyond a reasonable doubt, each and every time. There is no partial credit for the prosecution!
The defendant is entitled to the protection not merely of the collective average of the jurors’ judgments, but of each individual juror’s honest judgment. A single juror (in most cases) has the power to save a life with just two words: Not Guilty.
Usually, a deadlocked jury is not sent back to deliberate further more than once or twice. If jurors cannot reach a consensus, at some point the judge will declare a mistrial. A mistrial is okay, and it is FAR better for the defendant than to be convicted.
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