What are jury deliberations?

After all the witnesses have testified and the lawyers have made their arguments, the judge swears the bailiff in to take the jury to deliberate.

Specifically, in a California criminal jury trial the judge instructs the jury about deliberations just before sending them to deliberate:

“When you go to the jury room, the first thing you should do is choose a

foreperson. The foreperson should see to it that your discussions are

carried on in an organized way and that everyone has a fair chance to

be heard.

It is your duty to talk with one another and to deliberate in the jury

room. You should try to agree on a verdict if you can. Each of you must

decide the case for yourself, but only after you have discussed the

evidence with the other jurors. Do not hesitate to change your mind if

you become convinced that you are wrong. But do not change your mind

just because other jurors disagree with you.

Keep an open mind and openly exchange your thoughts and ideas about

this case. Stating your opinions too strongly at the beginning or

immediately announcing how you plan to vote may interfere with an

open discussion. Please treat one another courteously. Your role is to be

an impartial judge of the facts, not to act as an advocate for one side or

the other.

As I told you at the beginning of the trial, do not talk about the case or

about any of the people or any subject involved in it with anyone,

including, but not limited to, your spouse or other family, or friends,

spiritual leaders or advisors, or therapists. You must discuss the case

only in the jury room and only when all jurors are present. Do not

discuss your deliberations with anyone. Do not communicate using:

<insert currently popular social media> during your


It is very important that you not use the Internet (, a dictionary/[, or

<insert other relevant source of information>]) in any way in

connection with this case during your deliberations.

During the trial, several items were received into evidence as exhibits.

You may examine whatever exhibits you think will help you in your

deliberations. (These exhibits will be sent into the jury room with you

when you begin to deliberate./ If you wish to see any exhibits, please

request them in writing.)

If you need to communicate with me while you are deliberating, send a

note through the bailiff, signed by the foreperson or by one or more

members of the jury. To have a complete record of this trial, it is important that you not communicate with me except by a written note.

If you have questions, I will talk with the attorneys before I answer so it

may take some time. You should continue your deliberations while you

wait for my answer. I will answer any questions in writing or orally here

in open court.

Do not reveal to me or anyone else how the vote stands on the (question

of guilt/[or] issues in this case) unless I ask you to do so.

Your verdict [on each count and any special findings] must be

unanimous. This means that, to return a verdict, all of you must agree to

it. [Do not reach a decision by the flip of a coin or by any similar act.]

<During a retrial, give the following paragraph on request to inform jury

about prior proceedings without introducing extraneous matters>

[Sometimes issues are tried in separate trials. The only issue in this trial

is whether the People have proved the charge[s] of <insert

description of charge[s]> [in Count[s] ]. Do not speculate about

whether the defendant was already found guilty for (his/her) conduct or

may be found guilty in the future in another trial. Do not consider any

potential punishment.]

It is not my role to tell you what your verdict should be. [Do not take

anything I said or did during the trial as an indication of what I think

about the facts, the witnesses, or what your verdict should be.]

You must reach your verdict without any consideration of punishment.

You will be given [a] verdict form[s]. As soon as all jurors have agreed

on a verdict, the foreperson must date and sign the appropriate verdict

form[s] and notify the bailiff. [If you are able to reach a unanimous

decision on only one or only some of the (charges/ [or] defendants), fill in

(that/those) verdict form[s] only, and notify the bailiff.] Return any

unsigned verdict form.”

(CalCrim 3550.)

Sometimes the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision. This is called a hung jury. In that case, the judge declares a mistrial and the accused may be re-tried.