Justice & prisons
Jury service is an important civil duty that you may be asked to do if you’re aged 18 or over. Around 450,000 people participate in juries every year. Juries are usually used in trials for serious offences like murder or assault. The role of the jury is to consider the evidence and then reach a verdict of 'guilty' or 'not guilty'.
Jury selection procedure
A jury is always made up of 12 people from a cross-section of society who've been randomly selected from electoral rolls by a computer.
You are eligible for jury service if you're:
- aged 18-70
- registered on a parliamentary or local government electoral roll
- have lived in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for at least five consecutive years since you were 13 years old
You may not qualify for jury service if you:
- are currently on bail
- have ever been sentenced
- suffer from mental illness
- are a priest or a judge
- know the defendant, a witness, the judge, an advocate or solicitor involved in the trial
You are legally required to participate on a jury when summoned. If this simply isn’t possible, you must apply to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau and request either for your jury service to be deferred, or to be excused from jury service altogether. The Jury Central Summoning Bureau can be contacted on 0845 355 5567 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.
Failure to attend jury service is a punishable offence.
What’s involved in jury service
If called for jury service, you’re typically expected to serve for ten working days, although trials can last from a few days up to several months. Here’s a brief overview of the court procedure:
- The jury members are sworn in
- The prosecution presents the case against the defendant
- The defence presents the case for the defendant
- The judge sums up the evidence for and against the defendant
- The jury goes to the jury room and discusses the evidence until all the members agree whether the defendant is innocent or guilty
- The jury returns to the courtroom and the verdict is announced
- The judge sentences the defendant
When the trial ends, the jury members may be asked to serve on a jury for a different trial.
Payment for jury service
Jury service isn't paid but you can claim back expenses for:
- loss of earnings or benefits
- food and drink
- caring or child-minding fees
For more information on what's involved in being a juror visit the Juror section of the Criminal Justice System website (new window).