The UK’s Criminal Justice System uses trial by jury for all indictable offences and some triable-either-way offences. This means that the more serious offences, including those in which it is predicted that (if convicted) a custodial sentence of more than six months will be required, are tried by a jury of the accused peers. A jury is made up of 12 people, who are expected to be broadly representative of the local area.
When does Jury Duty occur?
- You could get asked any time after your 18th birthday and before your 70th; or you could never get asked at all.
- Selection is completed randomly via the local electoral register (so if you are registered to vote, that means you could get called up) -this means you might get selected multiple times as your name isn't removed from the list once you have served
- If you do get called, it will require you for 10 working days (2 weeks); if they think the case will take longer you can ask not to sit on the case, if you can prove this would be of detriment to you
- You will receive a jury summons detailing the time, date and location of when you will have to be on jury
How does it work?
Confirming you can go:
- Firstly, if you get a summons you need to reply: promptly. If you don't complete and reply to the form within 7 days, you could get fined up to £1,000
- When you reply, you need to confirm if you are eligible and if you would like to do it or defer.
- There could be a lot of waiting around upon arrival at court due to there being multiple stages for selection onto a jury to make sure they are balanced and without bias
- There is chance you won't end up getting to serve on a jury at all, so be prepared for that too
- Both sides (Prosecution and Defence) will present their sides of the case, with evidence and witnesses
- You can only make your decision based on what is said in the courtroom, and shouldn't google any aspects of the case. If you need clarification, you are allowed to ask the judge for it at any point throughout the trial
- It is the jury's responsibility to find, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused committed the crime. If a 'guilty' verdict is given, the judge then decides the sentence. This sentence can range from a custodial (i.e. going to prison) to a fine, but is not for the jury to decide
- You will make this decision in the deliberation room: you cannot talk about anything that is discussed in the deliberation room. A unanimous decision of guilty is generally required for a conviction.
In some cases there may be occasions as to why you cannot attend Jury Duty, to find out more about this and what you can do to excuse yourself, visit here.