A jury is a group of citizens called upon to render a verdict. In the context of a criminal trial, the jury is called upon to determine whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.

The jury is composed of twelve jurors.

The jury is presented with the facts, it hears the evidence and testimony from each side and it receives instructions from the judge. At the end of the trial, it must form an opinion and make a decision called the “verdict”.  The jury’s verdict must be unanimous.

If the accused is found to be not guilty, he or she is acquitted immediately. If the accused is found to be guilty, he or she receives a sentence determined by the judge, immediately or at a later date.

Persons who qualify to serve as jurors

To qualify as a juror, a person must:

  • be a Canadian citizen;
  • be of full age (18 years or over); and
  • be entered on the list of electors.

In the judicial district of Abitibi, to prepare the jury list, the sheriff may, with the authorization of the judge and in accordance with the terms and conditions prescribed by the judge, use, among other things, the population register of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (e.g. the list of Cree beneficiaries).

Persons who are disqualified to serve as jurors

The law provides that the following persons cannot serve as jurors:

  • persons who are not qualified to be jurors (see above);
  • members of the Privy Council, the Senate, the House of Commons of Canada the Conseil exécutif or the National Assembly of Québec and their spouse;
  • judges of the courts of law, municipal judges, coroners, officers of the court (e.g. clerks, sheriffs) and their spouse;
  • practicing lawyers or notaries and their spouse;
  • peace officers and their spouse;
  • fire fighters;
  • persons afflicted with a mental disability or mental illness;
  • persons who do not speak French or English fluently; however, an Indian or an Inuk, even though he does not speak French or English fluently, may serve as a juror if the accused is an Indian or an Inuk; and
  • persons charged with or convicted of a criminal act and their spouse.

Persons who can be exempted from serving as jurors

Although no one may refuse to serve as a juror, the following persons to be exempted:

  • ministers of the cult;
  • members of the personnel of the National Assembly of Québec;
  • public servants engaged in the administration of justice and their spouse;
  • persons 65 years of age or over and their spouse;
  • members of the Canadian regular forces;
  • for five years thereafter, persons who have served or have been retained for service as jurors;
  • persons afflicted with an infirmity;
  • persons whose health or domestic obligations are incompatible with serving on a jury; and
  • if the public interest allows it, persons having reasonable cause for exemption on a ground not provided for above.

How are jurors summoned?

  • The sheriff summons the jurors at least 30 days before the date on which their attendance is required in court or as ordered by the judge, which cannot be less than 8 days.
  • The summons (formal order to appear at the courthouse) indicates the date and time at which the person summoned is to appear.
  • If you have been summoned and you have a ground for exemption, you may apply for exemption.
  • If you are not qualified to serve as a juror (see criteria above), you must apply to be declared disqualified.
  • You may also apply to serve at any later session held within the next 12 months if you can prove that your situation prevents you from serving during the session for which you were summoned.
  • The sheriff will review any such requests and will communicate his decision to you as soon as possible.

Do I have to comply with the summons?

  • If you have been summoned and you have not been exempted, declared disqualified or permitted to serve at a later session, you must attend at the time fixed in the summons.
  • If you fail to comply with the summons, you are guilty of an offence.
>> For more information on the jury process, including informative videos, visit the Quebec Justice website.