Jury Duty (WA)
Like other states and territories of Australia, Western Australia uses juries to decide the majority of criminal trials. The jury makes a decision as to whether the accused is guilty or not guilty of the offence/s they are being tried for. If the accused is found guilty by the jury, the judge then proceeds to impose a sentence. The Juries Act 1957 (the Act) is the primary legislation that governs jury duty in Western Australia.
What Is Jury Duty?
A jury is a group of 12 to 18 people randomly chosen, who are sworn to try the issue of facts and return a verdict in criminal trials. Jurors are randomly selected from the electoral roll maintained by the Western Australian Electoral Commission. Jury duty is a legal responsibility and obligation of all citizens of WA. If you are summonsed for jury duty you must attend at the location and date and time specified on the summons.
If a person is called to serve on a jury that person may be chosen to aid in the administration of justice by helping a pool of between 12 and 18 other jurors to decide the innocence, or guilt, of an accused person in a criminal trial.
A juror’s role is to assist in keeping the legal justice system impartial and unbiased. Juries help to ensure that each accused person receives a fair trial in the District Court or Supreme Court of Western Australia.
How Are People Called Up For Jury Duty?
Section 32D of the Act sets out that any person who is called on for jury service will be served with a summons or a notice. A summons or a notice will be served by a summonsing officer at least 5 days before the time specified in that notice for the person’s attendance at the jury pool.
When Is A Summons Or Notice Considered To Be Served?
- Under Section 33 of the Act a summons or notice will be considered as having been sent, served or given to a person if::Delivered personally to that person, or if left –
- At the address appearing in the jurors’ book in respect of that person; or
- If it is in the same jury district as that address, at an address recorded by the Electoral Commissioner in respect of that person; or
- If sent by prepaid post addressed to that person at an address referred to in paragraph (a).
If a person is summonsed for jury duty that person must attend at the court on the date and time specified in that summons or notice unless they are not eligible, qualified or are excused from serving on the jury.
People Who Are Not Eligible, Qualified, Or Are Excused From Jury Duty
Section 5(3) of the Act sets out who is not eligible, qualified or is excused from jury duty in Western Australia. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- A person who is of or above the age of 75; or
- A person convicted of an offence in Western Australia, or elsewhere, and sentenced to imprisonment for life, or to a term of imprisonment exceeding 2 years; or
- A person who 5 years immediately before being summonsed has been convicted of 3 or more offences against a road law as defined Section 4 of the Road Traffic (Administration) Act 2008; or
- A person who is on bail, or is in custody, awaiting trial for an offence or who is waiting to be sentenced for an offence in Western Australia; or
- A person who is an involuntary patient in a mental health facility as defined in Section 4 of the Mental Health Act 2014; or
- A person who is represented pursuant to section 3(1) of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990.
What If A Summonsed Person Does Not Attend?
Section 55(1) of the Act provides that a person who, without a reasonable excuse, does not obey a summons that has been served on the person under this Act commits an offence.
The penalty which can be imposed for this offence is a fine of $5,000.
By serving on a jury a citizen helps to ensure that the criminal justice system remains fair and impartial. If a person is called to serve on a jury that person will be served with a summons or notice, as prescribed by the Act. A person who, without a reasonable excuse, does not obey a summons commits an offence and will be liable to a fine of $5,000.00.
Not all Western Australian citizens are eligible or qualified to serve on a jury. Section 5(3) of the Act sets out those who are not eligible, qualified or are excused from jury duty in Western Australia. Those people will not be called up for jury duty.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.