A jury is a group of citizens who are empaneled to hear and decide a civil or criminal case. “Petit” (or “small”) juries decide cases while “grand” juries decide whether to indict people. Trial juries are triers of “fact,” which means they decide what happened. The presiding judge is the trier of “law,” which means that the judge decides which laws should apply to the case and how they should apply.
Juries are typically comprised of between six and 12 members, though criminal case juries are usually 12. Unanimous verdicts are required in criminal cases, while civil cases may be decided by simple or super majorities, depending on the jurisdiction.
While juries do not generally pass sentence after criminal conviction, an exception is the death penalty, which can only be imposed after a jury’s finding that it should be applied.
The right to a jury is guaranteed in criminal cases by the 6th Amendment to the Constitution and in civil cases by the 7th Amendment.