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.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.