A constitutional amendment requiring unanimous jury verdicts in all felony trials is scheduled to be taken up by the House Monday. Louisiana is one of two states that does not require unanimous jury decisions.

Legal analyst Tim Meche says Louisiana’s outlier verdict system influences DA's to charge suspects with crimes that have longer sentences, just to have a better chance at conviction.

"Sometimes they can charge them with crimes that requires 6-person unanimous jury, but they'll charge them with a 10-2 verdict thereby increasing the sentence," said Meche.

If it receives 70 votes today from the House, the amendment would have to survive a popular vote before being put into law.

Meche says criminal justice reformers are pushing this legislation, because the non-unanimous jury requirement leads to more defendants pleading guilty to crimes they may have not committed

"It affects the defendant's desire to plead guilty when they may not actually, because the chances of conviction on 10-2 is much higher," said Meche.
Opponents have argued that requiring unanimous verdicts would make it tougher to get convictions, and lead to more costly mistrials.

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