Jury Selection Process for Criminal Trials

A criminal trial involves matters such as theft, mischief, assault, sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, bank robbery and drug cases.

In a criminal trial, the purpose of the jury selection process is for Crown counsel (also called the prosecution) and defence counsel (the lawyer for the person charged with the crime) to decide who they want on the jury.

Twelve to 14 jurors are chosen for criminal trials. Crown counsel, defence counsel, the accused (the person charged with the crime) and court staff are present during jury selection.

The process:

  • The court clerk reads the charges and the accused is asked to plead guilty or not guilty – when the accused pleads not guilty, the jury selection begins.
  • The court clerk will draw 15-20 jury ID numbers from the list of potential jurors (also called panellists) present.
  • Each panellist will answer “here” when their jury ID number is called and move to the front of the court.
  • Crown and defence counsel will agree or challenge each juror's participation until all jurors are chosen.
  • At this point, the case is typically adjourned (delayed to another time) and the jury is led out of the courtroom.  In rare instances, the trial may proceed immediately.

Alternate jurors:  A judge might decide to pick alternate jurors.

An alternate juror takes the place of any existing jurors who are unable to serve. The alternate juror must attend the first day of the trial. If an existing juror is unable to serve, the alternate juror will take their place for jury duty.