Utah Code section 78B-1-104 establishes the number of jurors required to compose a jury in criminal trials. Whereas 12 jurors is the norm in federal cases, Utah law allows smaller juries to be seated, except in capital (death penalty) cases.
Number of Jurors:
- Capital – 12 Jurors
- Felony – 8 Jurors
- Class A Misdemeanor – 6 Jurors
- Class B or Class C – 4 Jurors
In a death penalty case, the jury must consist of 12 persons. Even with the stipulation (agreement) of both parties, a trial in a capital felony case must be decided by a full 12-person jury.
Felony cases (other than capital offenses) receive a jury of 8 persons. Class A misdemeanors are heard by a jury of 6 persons. All lower-level misdemeanors are given a jury of 4 persons, and only if the jury is demanded by the defense. (No jury is used for trials involving only an infraction.)
In noncapital cases (felony or misdemeanor) the two sides may stipulate to proceeding with a smaller jury than what is provided for in the statute. Circumstances under which the defense would agree to a smaller jury are rare, and careful thought should be given before agreeing to proceed with trial without the required number of jurors.
Utah requires all* jury verdicts to be unanimous in criminal cases. This rule of unanimity applies both to guilty verdicts and to verdicts of not guilty.
*An exception to the unanimity rule exists in the penalty phase of a capital (death penalty) case. While a unanimous verdict is required to convict in a death penalty case, a single juror who votes against the death penalty during the penalty phase of the trial will eliminate execution as a possible punishment.