Jury Charge Law and Legal Definition

Jury charge or jury instructions are the set of legal rules that jurors should follow when the jury is deciding a civil or criminal case. Jury instructions are given to the jury by the judge. Jury charges are often discussed by attorneys on both sides in the case and the judge in order to make sure their interests are represented and nothing prejudicial happens.

In American judicial system, juries are the trier of fact when they serve in a trial. It is the jury's responsibility to sort through disputed accounts presented in evidence. The judge decides questions of law, i.e., how the law applies to a given set of facts. The jury instructions provide something of a flow chart on what verdict jurors should deliver based on what they determine to be true. For example, "If you believe A (set of facts) to be true, you must reach 'X' as verdict. If you believe B (set of facts) to be true , you must reach 'Y' (verdict)." Majority of the states in the United States have a basic set of instructions, usually called "pattern jury instructions," which provide the framework for the charge to the jury. Texas follows "Texas Pattern Jury Charges." Jury charges are often very complex and play a significant role in jury discussions.