In North Carolina all decisions by a jury after the trial of a case must be unanimous.
Imagine getting 12 people to unanimously agree on anything. It is very difficult. Nevertheless that is the law. All 12 must agree exactly on every issue submitted to it.
But what happens if the jury cannot agree?
If the jury cannot agree the judge will keep sending the jury back to deliberate for a period of time in order to encourage the jury to reach a unanimous agreement. During the process of deciding the issues in the case, there is usually give and take by jurors and each of the 12 must consider whether to compromise their position in order to reach a unanimous verdict.
If, after the court send the jury back several times the jury still cannot agree, the judge must make a decision in his or her own discretion, as to whether the jury is hopelessly deadlocked and will never be able to agree on a decision.
If the judge finds that the jury cannot agree this is sometimes referred to as a "hung" jury. In that case, the judge will declare a mistrial. Thereafter, the case will have to be re tried by the parties. So in that case, they start from Day 1 picking a jury in another case. Of course, the parties will have different jurors.
If a practical matter, many times after the judge declares a mistrial because of a "hung" jury the parties reach a settlement.
If you have any questions about how a jury trial works or any other questions about your case give us a call at 910-888-8888. We answer questions like this every day.