Home | Browse Topics | Criminal & traffic law | The criminal courts | Doing jury service

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 jail term of three years or more, or to preventive detention
  • people who, in the last five years, have been sentenced to a jail 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

www. communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

“Lag Law: Your rights inside prison and on release”


Lag Law answers heaps of common questions you might have if you’re going to prison, you’re in prison, or you’re getting out of prison. It talks about your rights in prison, and sets out the laws and rules that affect you when you’re put in prison.

Order hard copies from:
Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley
Phone: (04) 499 2928
Email: laglaw@wclc.org.nz

Ministry of Justice


The Ministry of Justice website has a range of pamphlets and other information on topics covered in this chapter. You can access this information online, or you can order hardcopies of the pamphlets from:

Phone: 0800 587 847
Email: publications@justice.govt.nz


Ministry of Justice Collections Unit – www.justice.govt.nz/fines

Phone: 0800 4 FINES (0800 434 637)
From overseas: +64 4 915 8586
From Australia: 1800 144 239 (toll free)

You can check or pay your fines by phone or online. The website has information about both infringement fines and court-imposed fines, and about reparations. The website also has information about District Court Collections Units.

Department of Internal Affairs – www.passports.govt.nz/what-you-need-to-renew-or-apply-for-a-passport/before-you-travel/

This webpage has information about paying your fines to avoid being stopped at the border.

Phone: 0800 PAYORSTAY (0800 729 677)

“Giving evidence” (Law Society pamphlet)


This pamphlet is for people who have to give evidence in court as a witness.

You can order hardcopies from the New Zealand Law Society:

Phone: (04) 472 7837
Email: pamphlets@lawsociety.org.nz

Department of Corrections


This website has information:

for offenders

for family and friends of offenders

about the Department of Corrections’ role in the community, including community work, supervision, home detention, and the role of probation officers

about the New Zealand Parole Board.

Victim Notification Register


This page on the Department of Corrections website has information about the victim notification register including, the process, how to apply, information victims can receive and how to make a complaint.

Restorative Practices Aotearoa


This website provides information on when Restorative Justice may be appropriate, and where in New Zealand Restorative Justice is available. You can also make an enquiry about Restorative Justice by filling out a form on their website.

Phone: 0800 RJA INC (0800 752 462)

Victim Support


Victim Support provides 24-hour support services to help New Zealanders rebuild their lives following a trauma or crisis.

Phone: 0800 842 846
Email: nationaloffice@victimsupport.org.nz

Victims Information


This is the website of the government’s “Victims Centre”. The site provides links to a range of services available to help victims deal with the practical and emotional effects of the crime, at each stage of the criminal and youth justice process.

Phone: 0800 650 654

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. It’s for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand (and their advocates) to help themselves.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top