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3.13.1 - Charge: Unanimous Verdict Required

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I have been told that you have not yet been able to reach a verdict. Although I have the power to dismiss you without a verdict having been reached, I should only do this if I am satisfied that you will not be able to agree on a verdict even if you are given more time for discussion. I am not yet satisfied that this is the case.

As I told you earlier, in some circumstances I can also allow you to give a majority verdict instead of a unanimous one. But it is not yet time for that, and it may never be. You must all still agree on your verdict of guilty or not guilty – your decision must be unanimous.[1]

What I urge you to do is to return to the jury room and try to resolve your differences. Experience has shown that juries can often agree if given more time to consider and discuss the issues.

Each of you has affirmed or sworn that you will give a true verdict according to the evidence. That is an important responsibility. You must fulfil it to the best of your ability. Each of you takes into the jury room your individual experience and wisdom – and you are expected to judge the evidence fairly and honestly in that light.

You also have a duty to listen carefully and with an open mind to the views of every other juror. You should calmly weigh up each other’s opinions about the evidence, and test them by discussion. Calm and rational discussion of the evidence often leads to a better understanding of the differences of opinion which juries may have. This discussion may convince you that your original opinion was wrong.

That said, you must always reach your own decision, according to your own view of the evidence. If, after calmly considering the evidence and listening to the opinions of other jurors, you cannot honestly agree with their conclusions, then you should not change your mind simply to reach a unanimous verdict. Indeed, you must not agree to a verdict if you do not honestly and genuinely think that it is the correct one. To do that would breach your duty to this court.

But, as I said earlier, experience has shown that often juries are able to agree in the end, if they are given more time to consider and discuss the evidence. For that reason, judges usually request juries to re-examine the matters that they disagree about, and make a further attempt to reach a verdict. That is what I am asking you to do here. Please return to the jury room and consult with one another. Express your own views. Listen to the views of others. Discuss your differences with an open mind. Try your best to reach a unanimous verdict.

 

Notes

[1] This paragraph should be excluded in cases of murder, treason, offences against sections 71 or 72 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic), or offences against a law of the Commonwealth, as majority verdicts are not permitted in relation to such offences (Juries Act 2000 s46).

Last updated: 1 February 2006

See Also

3.13 - Perseverance and Majority Verdict Directions

3.13.2 - Charge: Majority Verdict Allowed – No Perseverance Direction