In a Crown Court trial in the UK, a jury plays a crucial role in the administration of justice. The primary function of a jury is to determine the facts of the case and deliver a verdict based on those facts.
Impartiality: A jury is selected from the community and is composed of 12 members (sometimes 7 in certain cases) who are chosen at random. The jury must be impartial and unbiased, meaning they should have no preconceived notions about the case or the individuals involved.
Listening to evidence: During the trial, the jury listens to the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defence. This includes testimonies from witnesses, examination of physical evidence, and any other relevant information or documentation.
Assessing credibility: The jury has the responsibility to assess the credibility and reliability of the witnesses and evidence presented. They must evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, consider any inconsistencies in their testimonies, and weigh the evidence as presented by both sides.
Understanding the law: The judge provides the jury with instructions on the relevant law and legal principles that apply to the case. The jury is required to understand and apply the law as directed by the judge when reaching their verdict.
Deliberation: After hearing all the evidence and receiving the judge's instructions, the jury retires to a private room to deliberate on the verdict. During deliberation, jurors discuss the evidence, exchange their views, and analyse the facts presented in court. Discussions in the jury room are confidential and, under the Contempt of Court Act 1981, jurors who reveal information about their deliberation risk imprisonment.
Verdict: Once the jury reaches a unanimous decision or a majority decision (depending on the number of jurors in the specific case), they return to the courtroom and announce their verdict. The verdict can be "guilty" if the jury finds the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, or "not guilty" if they believe the prosecution has not proven the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The jury's role is limited to determining the facts of the case and delivering a verdict based on those facts. They do not decide matters of law, sentencing, or the admissibility of evidence. The judge presiding over the trial is responsible for these aspects.
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