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Criminal & traffic law


Doing jury service

Do I have to serve on the jury if I’m called up?

Juries Act 1981, ss 15, 32

If you are selected for jury service, you have to serve unless:

  • you belong to a category of people who are disqualified from jury service, or
  • the court excuses you from jury service or allows you to put it off until a later date.

If you have not been deferred or excused from jury service, you can be fined up to $1,000 for not attending.

Who is disqualified from jury service?

Juries Act 1981, ss 7, 8

Some people who have been convicted and sentenced in criminal cases can’t serve on a jury, namely:

  • people who have ever been sentenced to a prison term of three years or more, or to preventive detention
  • people who, in the last five years, have been sentenced to a prison term of three months or more or to corrective training.

The following kinds of people are also disqualified from jury service:

  • members of parliament
  • people involved with the justice system, such as judges and Justices of the Peace, practising lawyers, police officers, prison officers, probation officers and people employed in the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Corrections or other prison management groups
  • people with an intellectual disability.

When can I be excused from jury service?

Juries Act 1981, ss 14B, 14C, 15, 16, 16AA

You can apply in writing to the court registrar to allow you to put off (“defer”) your jury service for up to one year, if serving now would cause undue hardship or serious inconvenience to you or to some other person, or to the general public, because of:

  • your work commitments
  • your health or a physical disability
  • your language difficulty
  • your childcare or family responsibilities, or
  • other personal circumstances.

If the registrar refuses to put off your jury service, you can appeal to the judge hearing the case.

You can also ask the registrar to excuse you from jury service (so you don’t have to do it), as opposed to simply putting it off. The registrar can excuse you if all of the following three conditions are met:

  • it would cause undue hardship or serious inconvenience to you or some other person, or to the general public, because of:
    • your work commitments
    • your health or a physical disability
    • your childcare or family responsibilities, or
    • other personal circumstances.
  • it isn’t practical to put off jury service until some later time within the next 12 months
  • you would not be able to perform the functions of a juror satisfactorily if you were required to serve.

If the registrar refuses to excuse you, you can appeal to the judge hearing the case.

You are entitled to be excused by the registrar if:

  • you are aged 65 or over and you do not want to serve
  • serving on a jury is against your religious beliefs or your conscience
  • you have served on a jury within the last two years, or
  • you are closely connected with someone involved in the trial.

Did this answer your question?

The criminal courts

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Access the free “Lag Law: Your Rights Inside Prison and on Remand” book. This book answers heaps of common questions you might have if you’re going to prison, in prison, or getting out of prison.

Online: communitylaw.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Lag-Law-text-2021-1.pdf
Email for a hard copy: publications@wclc.org.nz
Phone: Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley – 04 499 2928

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice provides useful information about court procedure for criminal matters.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/courts/criminal

Paying your fines

You can learn about, check or pay your fines (infringement and court-imposed) by phone or online. Unpaid fines can stop you leaving New Zealand – use Ministry of Justice’s fine checks form to find out if you have outstanding debt.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/fines
Phone: 0800 4 FINES (0800 434 637)

Fine checks form: www.justice.govt.nz/fines/find-out-if-you-have-a-fine-or-check-your-balance-online/fines-check-form

Department of Corrections

The Department of Corrections website has helpful information for offenders and their whānau. It provides insight into the procedure before sentencing, while in prison and on parole.

Website: www.corrections.govt.nz

Restorative Practices Aotearoa

Restorative Practices Aotearoa provides information on when restorative justice may be appropriate, and where in New Zealand it is available.

Website: www.restorativejusticeaotearoa.org.nz
Email: admin@rpa.org.nz
Phone: 0800 RJA INC (0800 752 462)

Information for victims

Victims Information

Victims Information provides help to victims of crime, their whānau or friends to deal with the practical and emotional effects of a crime. It also provides information to help victims understand the legal and court process.

Website: www.victimsinfo.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 650 654

Manaaki Tāngata – Victim Support

Victim Support provides a free, nationwide support service for people affected by crime, trauma, and suicide in New Zealand. They help clients to find safety, healing, and justice after crime and other traumatic events.

Website: www.victimsupport.org.nz
Phone: 0800 VICTIM (0800 842 846)

Victim notifications register

Victim notification gives victims of serious crime, who are registered on the victim notification register, a way to stay informed about the person who offended against them.

Website: www.corrections.govt.nz/information_for_victims/victim_notification_register

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

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