The jury decide the verdict: whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of each charge.

The burden and standard of proof

In a criminal trial the burden is on the prosecution to prove that an offence took place, not on the defendant to prove that it did not. This is called the burden of proof.

The jury has to be sure that the defendant is guilty before they can convict him. If they are not sure they must acquit him. This is called the standard of proof. It is the prosecution’s responsibility to present enough evidence so that the jury is sure.

If a defendant is found not guilty, it does not necessarily mean that the jury did not believe the victim, it means that there was insufficient evidence for them to be sure that the defendant was guilty of the offence that he was charged with.

  • If someone is found guilty then he will be sentenced for the offence. Sentencing can happen immediately after the jury gives its verdict or at a future hearing after pre-sentence reports are obtained on the defendant.
  • If the jury finds the defendant not guilty then he is acquitted of the offence and no further action can be taken against him.
  • Someone who has been acquitted of an offence cannot usually be tried again for the same offence.
  • Where the defendant is being tried on multiple charges, the jury may reach mixed verdicts. This means they may convict on some charges and acquit on others.
  • If the jury cannot reach a verdict on a particular charge it is said that the jury is hung, and the prosecution may decide to have a second trial (often referred to as a re-trial).