What happens in court?

The basic court process is as follows:

1. You find out if you are on a jury

Court staff should keep you updated about when you're likely to be needed in court - and give advice about using mobile phones while waiting.

You stay in the jury waiting area until a court official calls your name. Jurors are randomly selected from a list in court and are then called and taken into the court.

If you're not selected, you may be chosen for another jury on the same day or have to come back another day to be selected for another jury.

2. The jury is 'sworn in'

If you're chosen, you must take the oath or make an affirmation - a promise to listen to the case carefully to give a fair verdict. The court will explain how to do it.

A verdict is whether someone is guilty or not guilty of committing a crime.

3. The trial begins

Evidence is 'presented' and witnesses from both the prosecution and the defence are questioned.

You can take notes during the trial but they cannot be taken home.

4. The spokesperson (foreman) of the jury is chosen

One person on the jury volunteers (or is chosen by the jury members) to be the foreman or forewoman. They speak on behalf of the jury.

5. The verdict is given to the court

Once all the evidence has been presented, you leave the court with the other jurors to discuss the evidence. This is called the ‘deliberation process’ and is done privately in a room specifically set aside for the jury.

The jury comes back into the courtroom and the spokesperson is asked to ‘deliver’ the verdict. This means they tell the court what decision the jury has reached.

Sometimes, the members of the jury cannot all agree whether the person is guilty or not guilty. If this happens, the judge explains what happens next.

It’s possible that no decision is reached. If this happens, there’s usually a new trial with a new jury.

If the jury’s verdict is not guilty, the defendant is freed and the case ends.

If the jury’s verdict is guilty, the judge decides on the sentence.