Last updated 20 July 2016
The trial proceeds before the jury in the same way as described above in relation to summary trials, although the existence of a jury to determine facts means that proceedings may progress more formally. In limited circumstances, criminal trials can be conducted before a judge without a jury either on the application of the prosecution (but only if the defendant consents) or on application of the defendant. A number of applications by defendants have been refused.
After the representatives for the Crown and defence have delivered their opening statements, witnesses give their evidence, and at the conclusion of the evidence, final addresses are made by the Crown and the defence. The judge will then explain to the jury the legal elements of the charge under consideration, outline the facts relevant to each element, give directions on the onus of proof and any legal considerations and explain all the possibilities open on the indictment. For example, on an indictment for murder, the accused may be found guilty of manslaughter instead.
The jury’s responsibility is to consider the facts of the case and, bearing in mind the judge’s directions on the law, decide whether any offence has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The judge is entitled to assist the jury to understand the facts revealed by the evidence. However, the members of the jury alone bear responsibility to determine the facts of the matter.
If the jury reaches a verdict, it must be unanimous. If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, then the judge discharges the jury and may order a new trial. There is now provision in Queensland for certain offences, including murder, that if the jury are unable to reach a verdict after a prescribed period of deliberation, a majority verdict of 11 out of 12 jurors (or if the jury consists of 11 jurors a majority of 10) may be given (s 59A Jury Act 1995 (Qld)).