Some court cases will use a jury to help determine the outcome of a criminal trial (or, very occasionally, a civil court case). A jury is a panel of 12 (in England and Wales) or 15 (in Scotland) members of the public who must vote on whether or not the defendant (the person accused of committing a crime) in the case is guilty of the alleged offence. The jury is presented with evidence and told about relevant law by the judge. They can discuss the case amongst themselves (alone, in the jury room) and then they must vote - often the vote has to be unanimous. A jury is not required to explain their reasoning to the court or anybody else.
Members of the public are chosen at random from the electoral register and summoned to (ie told to come to) court to complete their jury service (ie to be a part of a jury). Jury service will usually last for 10 days but can last longer.
If you’ve been selected to do jury service, you will receive a letter telling you that you have been chosen (this is known as a ‘jury summons’ in England and Wales or a ‘jury citation’ in Scotland). In England and Wales, you must respond to the summons within 7 days of receiving it. The courts will then send you details on when and where you must complete your jury service. For more information, read the Government’s guidance and the Scottish Government’s guidance.
Jury service rules
Jury members must abide by strict rules on talking about the trial that they are a part of. Prohibited practices include:
discussing the trial outside of the jury room before the end of the trial
discussing the deliberations that take place in the jury room
discussing the trial on social media