Jury Service in South Australia
Juries in South Australia are governed by the Juries Act 1927. Criminal trial in the District Court and the Supreme Court of South Australia are generally decided by a jury of 12 qualified persons. This page deals with jury service in South Australia.
The role of juries
In a criminal trial, a jury determines whether the accused has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury hears evidence and submissions from prosecution and defence before returning a verdict.
A jury is not responsible for deciding questions of law.
If the accused is found guilty, the jury does not have any input into the sentence that they receive. This is determined by the judge.
Procedures for empanelling a jury
Jurors are selected from the electoral roll and summoned to attend court. Jurors are then chosen at random from a ballot box to constitute a jury for an upcoming trial. Both defence and prosecution may challenge up to three jurors peremptorily (without a reason). A juror may also be challenged on the ground that they are either ineligible or disqualified from acting. Jurors who are challenged do not form part of the jury.
Jurors are remunerated for the time they spend serving a jury. A juror who is not a state government employee is paid $20 per day while serving on a jury in South Australia. Jurors who are state government employees will continue to receive their usual salary while serving on a jury.
Jurors also receive 85 cents for each kilometre that they travel from their home to court and back each day for jury service.
Who is ineligible for jury service?
A person is ineligible for jury service if they:
- Are not mentally and physically fit to serve on a jury;
- Do not have sufficient command of the English language to serve on a jury;
- Belong to one of the occupations listed in Schedule 3 of the Juries Act.
Who is disqualified from jury service?
Under section 12 of the Juries Act, a person is disqualified from jury service in South Australia if:
- They have been convicted of an offence that carries life imprisonment;
- They have been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more;
- In the last five years, they have served a term of imprisonment or detention or been on probation or parole;
- In the last five years, they have been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment or been disqualified from driving for more than six months;
- They are on a good behaviour bond;
- They have been charged with an offence punishable by imprisonment and the charge has not been finalised.
Under section 8 of the Juries Act 1927, if is an offence for a person who has been summoned to attend as a juror to:
- Fail to attend in answer to the summons;
- Take payment of more than they are entitled to as remuneration for their attendance as a juror.
These offences are punishable by a fine of up to $1250.
Trial by judge alone
Under section 7 of the Juries Act 1927, an accused person, after receiving legal advice, can choose to be tried by a judge alone.
The Director of Public Prosecutions can apply for a trial by judge alone in a matter where there is a charge of a serious organised crime offence.
Whether two or more people are jointly charged, a trial by judge alone will only be ordered if all the accused persons agree.
Indictable offences triable summarily
Minor indictable offences are indictable offences with a maximum penalty of no more than five years imprisonment, property offences involving a value of no more than $30,000 and the offences of indecent assault and recklessly causing harm.
These offences can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court where both prosecution and defence agree. However, in all indictable matters, the accused has a right to be tried by a jury. If the accused elects to be tried by a jury in a minor indictable matter, the matter is committed to the District Court for this to occur.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.