Majority Verdict in a Trial
Up until recently, every jury member had to be in agreement before a person could be found guilty or not guilty at their trial. This has now changed. With state offences, a person can be found guilty or not guilty by a majority verdict.
A majority verdict means:
- a verdict agreed to by 11 jurors where the jury consists of 12 persons at the time the verdict is returned, or
- a verdict agreed by 10 jurors where the jury consists of 11 persons at the time the verdict is returned.
What are the requirements for a majority verdict?
- The jury must consist of at least 11 persons for a majority verdict in criminal proceedings.
- A unanimous verdict (verdict agreed to by all members of the jury) cannot be reached after a reasonable time (at least 8 hours) after the jurors have gone to the jury room to consider their verdict.
- The judge is not to advise the jury of its right to bring in a majority verdict until the judge has determined what is reasonable for the particular trial.
- The court must be satisfied that, after examination on oath of one or more of the jurors, that it is unlikely the jurors will reach a unanimous verdict if given further time.
Am I entitled to a majority verdict for all offences?
No. A majority verdict is only available to you if you are being tried for a state offence. If you are on trial for a Commonwealth offence, a majority verdict is not permissible. A Commonwealth offence includes:
- forfeiture of child pornography material and child abuse;
- offences against the Commonwealth government;
- obstructing or hindering the performance of public protection services and other services;
- offences relating to the administration of justice;
- importation of drugs and Tier 1 goods (eg. steroids).
- offences relating to postal services.
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.