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What Happens After A “Hung Jury”?

by | Apr 2, 2019 | Criminal Law, General News, In The Media, Sentencing | 0 comments

What Happens After A “Hung Jury”?

With the news last week that the Hillsborough trial involving ex-police officer David Duckenfield ended without reaching a conclusion; we are going to look into what the newspaper reports meant when they referred to this as a “hung jury”.

Ideally, a jury will reach a clear conclusion, deciding to either convict or acquit the defendant.

In a case involving 12 jurors at least 10 must agree on the verdict. Should the numbers fall short with, say, 8 wanting to acquit, 4 wanting to convict, then an acceptable verdict isn’t reached.

In the event that a jury indicates that they cannot reach a verdict in accordance with this law, the jury will have to be discharged.

In legal terms, this is often referred to as a ‘hung jury’.

What happens next?

The most common outcome is for the prosecution to apply to have the defendant tried again.

The trial Judge will then consider whether or not it is in the interests of justice for a retrial to happen.

Usually the court will consider questions which explore things like, whether the alleged offence is serious enough to justify a retrial, or whether, if re-convicted, the appellant would be likely to serve a significant period or further period in custody. Factors such as the appellant’s age and health may also come into play.

If prosecutorial misconduct is alleged then other factors will be examined, analogous with whether it is an abuse of process to allow a retrial.

Usually the defence will not be able to properly resist the application, but we would always carefully assess all relevant factors and if we are able to do so, resist.

What happens if a new jury still cannot reach a verdict?

The usual practice in this scenario is for the prosecution to offer no evidence, although there are rare circumstances where a further retrial could take place.

How we can assist

We are specialists in all aspects of criminal law and procedure, if we can assist you with any criminal investigation or prosecution then contact Morton’s Solicitors on
0161 477 1121 or 
email us for prompt assistance.

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