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Jury Service (Vic)

Victoria uses juries to decide most criminal and some civil trials. If you are summonsed to come to court for jury service, you must make efforts to attend. If you are unable to attend because of a reason such as an illness or carer’s responsibilities, you must apply to the court for a deferral or apply to be excused from jury service, using the form on the back of the summons.

Juries in Victoria are governed by the Juries Act 2000.

Composition of juries

Civil trials in Victoria are determined by a jury of six, while criminal trials use a jury of 12. In some cases, the court may make an order for the empanelment of additional jurors – there may be up to two extra jurors in a civil trial and up to three extras in a criminal trial.

All adult citizens who are on the electoral roll in Victoria are qualified to be jurors. However, persons are disqualified from jury service if they have been sentenced to certain terms of imprisonment for certain offences. 

A person is ineligible to be a juror if they have worked in certain roles such as lawyer, judicial officer, police officer or governor or if they have served in certain other public official roles.

Being excused from jury duty

A person can request to be excused from jury service in Victoria for the whole or part of a jury period for a reason, including:

  • illness;
  • incapacity;
  • the distance they would have to travel to court;
  • substantial hardship that performing jury service would cause them;
  • carer responsibilities; (Section 8)

A person may apply to be permanently excused under Section 9 of the Act.

Empanelment of juries

When a panel of jurors is required by the court, a sufficient number of people must be selected from the jury pool. The panel members must then be informed of the type of action or charge that is to be tried, the names of the parties involved, the names of the main witnesses and how long the trial is expected to take.

Any person who will be unable to consider the matter impartially must be excused from jury service. This may be because they know one of the persons involved. Any person who will be unable to serve for any reason must also be excused.

Civil trials

In civil trials, each party may challenge two panel members without a reason.

Each party in a civil trial may challenge as many jurors as they like for a reason.

Criminal trials

In criminal trials, each party may challenge three panel members without a reason if only one person is standing trial and two panel members if two or more co-accuseds are standing trial.

Each party in a criminal trial may challenge as many potential jurors for a reason as they like.

Remuneration and allowances for jury duty

Jurors are entitled to payment for their attendance for jury service if they have attended court after being summonsed whether or not they actually served on a jury.

If a juror is in paid employment and misses work because of attending court for jury service, their employer must pay them the difference between the amount received as remuneration for jury service and the amount they would have received for working during the period of jury service.

Offences relating to jury duty

There are a number of criminal offences under the Juries Act. These include supplying false or misleading information so as to avoid jury service (Section 70), failing to attend when summoned doe jury service without a reasonable excuse (Section 71) and publishing the contents of the deliberations of a jury (Section 78).

After trial

After a person has completed their jury service, they are paid and receive a certificate of exemption from jury service for a period that depends on the duration of the trial.

Jurors must not disclose to others how the jury reached its verdict or what was said during deliberations even after the trial is over. Jurors must not reveal the identity of the other jurors.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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