You may be one of many people who have been chosen for jury service. A jury consists of 12 members of the public selected at random. Jurors usually try the more serious criminal cases such as murder, rape, assault, burglary or fraud. These trials take place in the Crown Court.
Receiving a jury summons means you are legally required to attend court. Please do not be worried about this, most people overcome their initial concern and find jury service interesting and rewarding.
Jury service is one of the most important civic duties that anyone can be asked to perform. As a juror, you have a chance to play a vital part in the legal system. You do not need any knowledge of the legal system. Each individual juror will be asked to consider the evidence presented and then decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
How long you are likely to serve
As a juror you would normally be asked to serve for a period of ten working days and during that time you could sit on more than one case. If a trial takes longer, the jury is expected to sit for the whole of the trial, however you will be told about the length of the trial at the start. If there are any exceptional circumstances which prevent you from serving for a longer period of time you will need to tell the court before sitting on the jury panel.
Civil, High Court and Coroner juries
Sometimes jurors are needed in civil trials for cases such as libel. This does not happen often. When it does, the trial will take place in the High Court or a county court. Sometimes jurors are also needed for Coroner’s courts.
A juror in a civil case or coroner’s case will have a similar role to a juror in a criminal case but there are some important differences. These will be explained to you if you become a juror for these specific trials.
For most people, jury service is interesting and something they will do only once or twice in their lifetime. However, the extra travelling, or the responsibility, may be a strain. Remember that you will not be on your own and if you have any difficulty you may talk to court staff.
More information about your jury service can be obtained from the Crown Court where you have been asked to attend. Staff there will be able to provide you with information about court facilities and also about claiming travel and other expenses.
On your first day of jury service a member of HMCS staff will be available to answer any queries you may have and will also show you a video about jury service. This video can also be viewed online.
Watch the jury service video (on the DirectGov website)