All about Australian Law system aND the australian jury.

Essay by vivHigh School, 10th grade July 2003

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A criminal case deals with when an offender is accused of behaviour that is considered socially unacceptable or harmful. The types of things the criminal law deals with are murder, assault and theft.

A civil case is a dispute involving two or more parties. It can involve owed debt, suing for compensation or a contract dispute.

There are many differences between a criminal and civil case. In a civil case, the jury must decide which party is right and wrong, while in a criminal case the jury decides whether the accused is guilty of a crime. In a Civil case there are only four jurors, rather than twelve for a criminal. If the jury can't agree after deliberating for six hours in a civil case, the judge can decide to discharge the jury and order a new trial. Additionally, if after six hours, three of the four jurors agree, the judge can decide to accept their verdict.

Both of these points do not happen in a criminal case, in the the verdict must be unanimous.

In both civil and criminal cases the Judge will help jurors to understand what the law says; however, it is up to the jury to make the final decision about the case.

The role of the jury is to represent the general public in deciding, in the case of criminal law, whether the accused is guilty and in the case of civil law, which of the parties in court is in the right.

The issue of majority verus unanimous verdicts have been a public debate issue for some time. The common law rule, dating back in England to the fourteenth century, that a criminal jury verdict must be unanimous is maintained and reinforced by statute in three Australian jurisdictions, New South...