Essay about Criminal Trials And The English Legal System

949 Words Oct 22nd, 2014 4 Pages
Juries have developed throughout Britain since medieval times, and are considered to be an integral part of the English Legal System, however in reality only hearing a minority of all criminal cases (Elliott & Quinn, 2002). The function of the jury will be explored and further examined in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.
Juries’ dominant role is deciding criminal cases heard in Crown Court trials, listening to all the evidence and deciding upon the guilt or innocence of a defendant, based on the facts of the case and applying the law to those facts, directed by the judge. They must reach a unanimous verdict, however if they are unable to do so, the judge can then ask for a majority verdict, where 10 out of the 12 members must agree. It can be seen that, of the 3-5% of all criminal cases that reach the Crown Court, due to a high proportion of these pleading guilty, only around 1% of all criminal trials will in fact be trial by jury (Elliott & Quinn, 2002).
A jury will consist of 12 members who have been selected at random from the electoral register. To qualify for jury service Elliott & Quinn (2002, pp.155-156) cites the Juries Act 1974 (as amended) “This Act now provides that potential jury members must be: aged 18 to 70; on the electoral roll; and resident in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for at least five years since the age of 13.” Recent reforms increased the age of jurors to reflect longer life expectancy in the UK. Doyle (2013) quotes that “Criminal…

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