Australian Criminal Law Group are Sydney’s best criminal lawyers for jury trials.
The jury trial is the foundation of the criminal justice system. People charged with serious criminal offences are entitled to have their guilt or innocence determined by the judgement of their peers. The men and women who decide their fate are known as a jury.
The importance of trial by jury was expressed in passionate terms by Deane J in his judgment in Kingswell in 1985:
The guarantee of section 80 of the Constitution was not the mere expression of some casual preference for one form of criminal trial. It reflected a deep-seated conviction of free men and women about the way in which justice should be administered in criminal cases. That conviction finds a solid basis in an understanding of the history and functioning of the common law as a bulwark against the tyranny of arbitrary punishment.
Who makes up a jury?
Juries are made of 12 people selected at random from the electoral roll. Juries determine most criminal cases in the District and Supreme Courts.
What is the role of a jury?
The juror’s role is to hear evidence and apply the law as directed by the judge. Jurors decide on the evidence and law if a person is guilty or not guilty of a crime. The jury’s decision is called a verdict.
What is a verdict?
For hundreds of years, a person tried before a jury could only be found guilty of the offence if the verdict was the unanimous decision of the 12 jurors.
In 2006, majority verdicts were introduced in NSW following the prevalence of “hung juries” in criminal trials in NSW.
A majority verdict is a verdict agreed to by 11 jurors rather than the 12 persons constituting the jury. A judge can allow for a majority verdict if unanimous verdict cannot be reached after a reasonable time of the jury deliberating.
What is a hung jury?
A hung jury occurs where the members of the jury cannot agree whether a person is guilty or not guilty.
In the case of a hung jury, there can be a retrial, or the Crown may terminate the criminal proceedings. If there have been two trials with hung juries, it is only in “exceptional circumstances” that there will be a third re-trial.
Can I get out of jury duty?
If you are selected for jury duty you can request that you not be selected on the jury. Common reasons include:
- Undue hardship or serious inconvenience to family;
- Conflicts of interest.
What does jury duty pay?
If the trial lasts for between one and 10 days, jurors are paid $106.30 per day. If the trial lasts more than 11 days, jurors are paid $247.40 for each day thereafter. However, if jurors are unemployed, they continue to receive $106.30 per day.