Discharge of a Jury Law and Legal Definition

Discharge of Jury is the dismissal of jury in charge with the trial of a case. When a jury is sworn and charged, general rule is that they cannot be discharged by court, or any other, but ought to give a verdict.

A jury will be discharged under necessity and under extraordinary circumstances:

1. at the request or with the consent of the prisoner and for his benefit, when ill practices have been used;

2. when the prisoner becomes insane, or becomes suddenly ill, so that he cannot defend himself, or instruct others in their defense;

3. when a juror or witness is taken suddenly ill;

4. when a juror has absented himself/herself or, on account of his intoxication, is incapable to performing duties as a juror.

The exception to the rule, is on necessity, and not because the jury cannot agree. In Pennsylvania, it is a settled principle that the court must exercise a just discretion in deciding a case of necessity. Generally the authority of the court to discharge the jury rests in the discretion of the court.

A distinction has been made between capital cases and other criminal cases. In cases of misdemeanors and in civil cases, the right to discharge rests in the sound discretion of the court, which is to be exercised with great caution.