Understanding the Role Of Jury in Legal Cases

What is a Trial by Jury?

A jury trial is the basic foundation of the overall criminal justice system. Individuals charged with any serious criminal offences are entitled to have their innocence or guilt determined by the judgment of their peers. The men or women who decide their fate and if they are innocent or guilty are known as a “Jury”.


The Jury Act 1977 (NSW) governs the law around all matters related to juries.

The importance of trial by jury was clearly expressed by Deane J in passionate words in his judgment in Kingswell in the year 1985:


“The guarantee of section 80 of the constitution was not just a mere expression of some casual preference for one type of criminal trial. Instead, it reflected a deep-seated conviction of free men and women about how justice should be served in criminal cases. This conviction finds a solid basis in the complete understanding of the history and functioning of the common law. All of the rules relating to jury service in New South Wales (NSW) are regulated by the Jury Act 1977 (NSW).

In Australia, there is a right to right to trial by jury. This is contained in section 80 of the constitution, which states;


‘The trial on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be by jury, and every such trial shall be held in the State where the offence was committed, and if the offence was not committed within any State the trial shall be held at such place or places as the Parliament prescribes.’

Every individual who is enrolled to vote in NSW is qualified and liable to serve as a “Juror”. However, there are a few exclusions that are briefly mentioned below. Many of these may be based on the profession, sickness, disability, or undue hardships of a person as a result of serving jury duty. The number of jurors in a criminal trial is determined by s 19 of the Act.


Juries are made up of a total of 12 people selected at random from the electoral roll. In NSW, there is a specific requirement for a unanimous jury of 12. Given the need for a majority verdict of 11 jurors, which is expected to last more than 3 months, in general. The judge has the right to choose to add more people to the jury, i.e., a maximum of 3 additional jurors. This is done to make sure that there are enough jurors for the verdict to be made.


Selected or potential jurors are not required to disclose their identities except to the sheriff. They are to be referred throughout the proceedings by numbers provided to them by the sheriff.

Juries are used in the NSW District Court and NSW Supreme Court to:


  • hear and determine more serious criminal matters
  • hear and determine civil matters involving large monetary claims

Juries are also used in coronial inquests in the NSW Coroners Court. Juries determine most of the criminal cases in the District or Supreme Court. The role of a jury is to typically assess “indictable offences” or serious criminal matters. However, at times, they are also used in some civil cases. They are not normally used for less serious criminal offences.


The key role of the jury is to hear people’s claims and evidence that is presented to them in court. Afterwards, they apply the law as directed by the judge. Jurors make the decision based on the evidence and law if the person is guilty or innocent in a crime they have been charged. The decision made by the jury is called a Verdict.

They play a vital role in the Australian judicial system by maintaining a perception of fairness and justice. The role of the jury has been designed to represent the broader population rather than a particular person and any other bias or prejudice they may have. Without the help of a jury, the decision about a person ‘s guilt would be solely that of the judge. In Australia, the role of the jury is to decide whether a person is guilty or not. By any means, they do not have the right to decide on the penalty that should be applied to the guilty person.

There are various criminal matters which are tried by a jury. For example;


  • murder trials;
  • terrorism trials;
  • serious sexual assault trials;
  • robbery trials;
  • tax fraud trials
  • fraud trials;
  • Centrelink fraud trials; and
  • money laundering trials.

It is important to obtain legal advice from top criminal defence lawyers before deciding to go to trial.

In Australia and other jurisdictions, jury nullification is when a jury in a criminal trial finds an accused not guilty, although, at law, the accused has broken the law. Jury nullification usually occurs when the jury believes the actions of the accused were justified on moral or ethical grounds. This can occur as juries have the right to decide the case without providing any reason for their decision.


There is no state or federal law that governs jury nullification in Australia.

There is various exemptions from jury duty in NSW. Certain people qualify for jury duty exemption if they:


  • Are an undischarged bankrupt;
  • Been bound by a court order relating to a charge or conviction (such as parole, community service order, AVO, good behaviour bond, bail or remand);
  • Been or are employed in public service, law enforcement, criminal investigation, the provision of legal services, or the administration of justice;
  • Been convicted of certain serious offences;
  • Served a term of imprisonment within the last seven to ten years; and
  • Been found guilty of an offence and detained in a detention centre or juvenile facility in the past three years.

In addition to the above, you may get an exemption from jury duty in NSW if you;


  • Are a practising dentist, pharmacist, or medical practitioner;
  • Medical needs enabling absence and inability to attend;
  • Are employed or engaged in emergency services provision;
  • Care for children or others who have a mental or physical impairment;
  • Have study commitments that are unable to be missed;
  • Are a sole trader or contractor; and
  • Are part of the clergy.

Served as a juror in the past three years or attended court when required for jury duty, but did not serve, in the last 12 months.

If the police have charged you or a loved one, you must attend court. Appearing in court for a criminal charge is usually daunting. Let us help you make the process easier. Here are 10 reasons to choose our team of criminal lawyers from Lyons Law Group;


Result-focused criminal lawyers 


Our team will work to achieve the best result for you in the shortest time possible. However, we do aim to provide quality over quantity service to you. Our criminal lawyers appear in all criminal and traffic matters, including trials, sentencing, bail applications, and apprehended violence orders. We are a result-focused firm of lawyers.

At Lyons Law, we do not make any unrealistic promises for results. You will be advised on the most realistic results achievable in your case, including acquittals of all charges against you. Nevertheless, you can be sure that our team will work extremely hard to achieve the best possible outcome for you.


Proven Track Record


Our experienced defence lawyers are passionate about representing their clients and achieving the best outcome. Lyons Law is a team of solicitors who are dedicated, and with our support staff, you can be confident of the highest quality of legal representation. We have an exceptional track record of results. We provide our outstanding client service at an affordable rate for our clients.


Fixed Fees


We always let our clients know how much their cases will cost from the beginning. This makes it easier for them to decide whether or not they want to proceed with the case. Not only do we offer fixed fees for many types of criminal cases and services, but also free first phone consultations. In addition, our firm offers fixed fees applicable to a wide range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, fraud, drug possession, assault, and AVOs.


Free First Conference


For all of those individuals who are going to court, we offer a free first 15-minute phone conference with one of our senior criminal defence lawyer. It is best you email our office all your relevant documents before a conference so criminal lawyers can provide the best advice within that time frame.


Highly experienced criminal defence lawyer


Lyons Law Group is a highly experienced team of criminal lawyers. Our team is led by Mohammad Khan, who is one of the best criminal lawyers in Sydney. He has represented clients in some of Australia’s most high-profile cases and was under the direct tutelage of Australia’s leading criminal lawyer Adam Houda.


Moreover, our team has worked and successfully represented clients on highly complex trials and sentences in NSW.


Work closely with Australia’s leading criminal law barrister


We work closely with some of Australia’s leading criminal law barristers. Barristers are usually instructed in more serious matters, and their experience and input can be invaluable to your case. The barristers we regularly instruct range from Queen’s counsels, Senior counsels and highly experienced junior-senior counsels.


Specialist for District and Supreme Court trials


Our team of sydney criminal lawyers have worked on numerous District and Supreme Court trials in NSW. We have worked on extremely complex criminal law trials that require impeccable preparation and understanding of the law.


Specialist for bail applications in NSW


Lyons Law Group is a highly experienced team of bail lawyers. We have regularly obtained bail for clients for extremely serious charges that carry life sentences. For types of charges, bail is usually denied by a Court.


In house Experts


Our criminal lawyers have in-house investigators with decades of law enforcement experience and assist our team with process service, background checks, integrity testing, investigations, surveillance, and bug detection.


For the preparation of jury trials and defended hearings, these services can be utilised on behalf of our client to achieve the best result.


Appearance at all Courts in NSW


From Broken Hill to Waverly, our criminal lawyers appear in all courts throughout New South Wales.


If you wish to contact us or book your first free 15-minute phone conference, contact us on 0404479096 or send us an email at info@lyonslaw.com.au.

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