Jury Trials in Queensland

Queensland

Get informed about jury trial procedures in Queensland

The Jury Act 1995 (Qld) and Criminal Code 1899 (Qld) set out a range of important procedures relevant to jury trials in Queensland. Having an understanding of jury trial procedures can assist defendants, witnesses and others to know what may occur during a criminal trial as well as the variables that may be involved.

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Jury Trials in Queensland

Anderson Legal defends individuals and businesses facing allegations that may be decided by jury trial in Queensland.


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Jury Trials in Queensland

Anderson Legal defends individuals and businesses facing allegations that may be decided by jury trial in Queensland.

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View our growing library of articles and webinars, which are accessible no matter the time of day or night.

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Anderson Legal provides a free, no-obligation consultation to understand whether this firm can assist you.

Jury Trials in Queensland

Queensland has some jury trial procedures that are not found in all States and Territories in Australia.
This section deals with the following:
Criminal Defence Image

Jury Trials in Queensland

Queensland has some jury trial procedures that are not found in all States and Territories in Australia.
This section deals with the following:
Criminal Defence Image

Jury selection

People unfamiliar with the Queensland legal system can have misconceptions about how a jury is typically selected for a trial before the Supreme and District Courts in Queensland. The information the parties have about potential jurors is often limited, generally restricted to the name, suburb and last occupation of the person. Such information generally affords little insight into the way the potential juror is likely to respond to issues arising in the trial.

Eligibility

While many people over 18 who are enrolled to vote on the electoral roll are eligible, there are certain people excluded from serving as a juror by the Jury Act 1995 (Qld). Eligible jurors may be excused from jury service for a range of reasons. For example, a person may be excused if jury service would result in substantial hardship to their employment or due to their personal or financial circumstances, or because of their health.

Number of jurors

In Queensland, 12 people may be selected to form a jury in a criminal trial, although it is possible to empanel reserve jurors. Reserve jurors are often empanelled for lengthy trials, where there is a clear risk one or more jurors may not be able to see the trial through to completion.

If one or more empanelled jurors falls ill or otherwise cannot continue to serve on the jury through to the completion of the trial, it is possible to continue on without all 12 jurors. However, the loss of just one juror in a trial can result in a mistrial.

Right of challenge

A defendant has eight peremptory challenges for a typical jury panel. The prosecution may also typically call for eight panel members to ‘stand by’, which essentially operates in the same way as a defendant’s challenge. A party may also ‘challenge for cause’ against a person selected to serve on a jury, one either or both of the following grounds:

  • the person is not qualified for jury service;
  • the person is not impartial.

Both peremptory challenges and challenges for cause must be made before the oath recitation involving the potential juror commences. However, in cases where ‘special reasons’ exist (such as a result of pre-trial publicity), it is possible for an inquiry to be made of persons selected to serve as jurors and reserve jurors when the court reaches the final stage of the jury selection process.

While it is possible to challenge the jury panel as a whole, such challenges are rare.


Jury trial procedure

Trial procedure in Queensland

In Queensland, jury trials before the Supreme and District Courts follow a standard process:

  1. An accused person is asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges (referred to as the arraignment).
  2. A jury is empanelled, unless the trial is before a judge sitting without a jury.
  3. The Crown Prosecutor outlines the case to the jury (referred to as the ‘opening address’)
  4. The Crown Prosecutor calls all of its evidence. For each witness called by the prosecution, the following occurrs:
    1. Examination-in-chief: The purpose of examination-in-chief is for the Crown Prosecutor to adduce from each witness all of the relevant and material evidence each witness can offer in the trial. Generally the questions asked must not lead or suggest the answer to the witness.
    2. Cross-examination: A defendant or their lawyer may cross-examine a witness following examination-in-chief. The aim of cross-examination is to test or attack the evidence of a witness, such as by pointing out where the witness has given inaccurate or erroneous evidence, or has omitted to give evidence on a relevant issue. There is an expectation that witnesses will be afforded an opportunity to comment on issues that the defence intends to contradict and rely upon in its case.
    3. Re-examination: Following cross-examination, a Crown Prosecutor may re-examine the witness but is restricted to doing so on issues arising from cross-examination. The object of re-examination is to allow a witness to explain, rectify or give context to answers given during cross-examination.
  5. Once the prosecution has closed its case, the defendant is then called upon to state if he or she wishes to give or call evidence. If the defendant elects to give or call evidence, the same process for examining, cross-examining and re-examining the witness occurs with the positions switched between the defence lawyer and Crown Prosecutor.
  6. Once the defendant has closed his or her case, or if the defendant elects not to go into evidence, the parties are given an opportunity to deliver a closing address to the jury. How the closing addresses may occur may be affected by a range of matters, including whether a defendant is represented by a lawyer, if he or she has given or called evidence, as well as who is appearing for the prosecution. The object of a closing address is to present arguments to the jury as to why one side should succeed in its case.
  7. After the closing addresses have been presented to the jury, the trial judge gives directions to the jury that bind how it is to consider the case (referred to as a ‘summing up’). During the summing up of the trial judge, as well as giving directions as to the law to be applied, comments may be made about the evidence and witnesses called in the case.
  8. Once the summing up of the trial judge has concluded, the jury is asked to deliberate and reach a verdict. In Queensland, while the starting point is the jury must be unanimous in its verdict, the law does permit majority verdicts in certain situations.
  9. If a defendant is found not guilty of all charges (an acquittal), they are discharged. If a defendant is found guilty of any charge, they then face sentencing by the trial judge. In Queensland, it is common for sentences to immediately follow a guilty verdict.

There are many issues that may arise before or during a trial that can impact how it proceeds. A criminal lawyer with expertise in criminal law and substantial experience running criminal trials can be crucial to a successful defence.

Types of evidence in jury trials

In a criminal proceeding, there are different types of evidence that may form part of either a prosecution or defence case. The following are examples of the categories or types of evidence that may form part of a criminal proceeding:

  • Direct evidence
  • Circumstantial evidence
  • Expert evidence
  • Good character evidence
  • Propensity evidence

Evidence may come directly from witnesses as part of their testimony, documents, recordings or other forms of information. Rules of admissibility and the discretion courts have to reject evidence that may be unreliable, unlawful or unfairly obtained means that an important role of any criminal defence lawyer is to assess whether any evidence should be objected to before or during a trial. Equally, it is important for defence lawyers to gather and seek out evidence that may support their client’s defence at trial, such as through good character evidence and other information that may corroborate their case.

Closing addresses to juries

Closing addresses allow the prosecution and defence to argue their respective cases to the jury. It is the last opportunity the lawyers have to influence the jury. In Queensland, it is rare for practitioners to interrupt each other during a closing address to raise objections.

While a closing address is not evidence that a jury may consider, any arguments (often referred to as ‘submissions’) a jury does accept or find compelling may be used as part of its fact-finding role and deliberations. In essence, a closing address may:

  • summarise and contextualise the evidence relevant to the deliberations of the jury;
  • argue which evidence ought to be accepted as credible and reliable; and,
  • argue which evidence ought to be rejected as incredible, unreliable or unpersuasive.

Due to the argumentative nature of closing addresses, some lawyers believe the order of the closing addresses is important, at least in particular cases. In Queensland, if a defendant gives or calls evidence, the defence must give their closing address first. Otherwise, generally the defence address goes last, giving the defendant’s lawyer the ‘last word’.

Prosecutors have ethical obligations in the way they prosecute a case against a defendant. As was outlined in the New South Wales case of Livermore v The Queen [2006] NSWCCA 334 at paragraph [31], a miscarriage of justice may be caused by the following (either alone or in combination):

  1. A submission to the jury based on material which is not in evidence.
  2. Intemperate or inflammatory comments, tending to arouse prejudice or emotion in the jury.
  3. Comments which belittle or ridicule any part of any accused’s case.
  4. Impugning the credit of a Crown witness, where the witness was not afforded the opportunity of responding to an attack upon credit.
  5. Conveying to the jury the Crown Prosecutor’s personal opinions.

It is important for any defence lawyer representing a defendant to understand the ethical limits that apply to prosecution arguments so that any closing address that unfair does not lead to a miscarriage of justice.


Judicial directions to juries

In Queensland, section 620 of the Criminal Code states the following:

620 Summing up

(1) After the evidence is concluded and the counsel or the accused person or persons, as the case may be, have addressed the jury, it is the duty of the court to instruct the jury as to the law applicable to the case, with such observations upon the evidence as the court thinks fit to make.

(2) After the court has instructed the jury they are to consider their verdict.

The High Court of Australia has stated that the obligation on a trial judge is to identify the “real issues” in the trial and explain to the jury only so much of the law as is necessary for the jury to make its decision on those issues. In some cases, the law may be simply stated and the real issues clear. In other cases, there may be multiple defendants on trial, multiple charges and multiple bases of liability. In cases of the latter type, judicial directions can necessarily be lengthy and complex, which heightens the risk of the jury being misdirected or confused by the summing up of the trial judge.

One of the important roles both prosecutors and defence lawyers have in a criminal trial is assisting the trial judge to identify the real issues and give appropriate directions to the jury. Failing to request a specific judicial direction to be given to a jury can not only deprive a defendant of its benefit before the jury, but also may bar it from being successfully raised as an appeal ground later following conviction.


Although based in Brisbane, Anderson Legal is frequently engaged to assist people dealing with criminal allegations across Queensland. If you are facing criminal prosecution and need advice and representation, Anderson Legal provides comprehensive criminal defence services to its clients. This includes:

  • providing advice relating to allegations made or documents served on our clients;
  • identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the case alleged against our clients;
  • advising clients on options relating to obtaining evidence, including expert evidence;
  • communicating on behalf of its clients with police, courts, and others;
  • resolving, where appropriate, criminal charges through negotiation;
  • applying to courts for orders and rulings, including to exclude police evidence;
  • representing clients in trials and sentences before all courts; and,
  • filing and litigating appeals against wrongful convictions and unjust sentences.

This firm places an emphasis on providing clear guidance so that our clients are placed in a real position to make informed decisions about their options and their preferred path forward. Anderson Legal provides clear, transparent disclosure of its legal costs at every stage.

  • Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, is an experienced lawyer who has been independently described by the Courier Mail as “one of the best legal minds” and a “leading corporate and white-collar crime lawyer” (16 December 2021).
  • Having successfully represented litigants in the High Court of Australia, Queensland Court of Appeal, Royal Commissions, and multiple other courts dealing with trials and other hearings, Andrew Anderson has a demonstrated record of success in complex and difficult cases.
  • Prior to operating a law firm, Andrew Anderson worked as a Principal Crown Prosecutor in Queensland and barrister in private practice at 8 Petrie Terrace Chambers in Brisbane. His depth of courtroom advocacy experience ranges from straightforward cases right through to complex homicide trials and appeals.
  • Anderson Legal is a law firm that is dedicated to the best ideals of the legal profession. Seeking to exceed client expectations and fighting for justice is an everyday pursuit.

Limitations on general information

Each legal issue is unique. The information on this page and website cannot – and is not meant to – substitute legal consultation. It is designed to outline information of a general nature if you want to learn more about jury trial procedures, particularly as it relates to anybody facing an issue of this kind in Queensland. Anybody dealing with a criminal prosecution ought to obtain expert legal advice and guidance as soon as possible.

No content accessible on the website is created to provide specific legal answers or advice. It is designed to provide general information about legal matters and related concepts. It should not be used as, or in substitute of, your own legal advice or other advice as appropriate.

To the extent allowed by law, no warranty, condition, or guarantee is provided in relation to the accuracy or reliability of any information contained on this site. Content may be changed from time to time without notice.

If you face an investigation or charge and need advice and representation, contact Anderson Legal. This firm provides expert advice and representation for people needing assistance to defend themselves against unjust accusations.

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