Return of the verdict is the most awaited part in the trial of a criminal case. In Victoria, there are two types of verdicts which the jury can make. They are either alternative verdict or unanimous or majority verdict.
There are specified alternative verdicts which the jury can return under the provisions of The Crimes Act 1958 in relation to the following offences:
murder, arson, rape, incest, destroying or damaging property, riot related charges, offences causing grievous bodily harm, conduct endangering life, arson causing death, infanticide, child destruction, abortion, unauthorised impairment of electronic communication and unauthorised modification of data to cause impairment.
In a trial of offences except treason or murder, if there is any allegation in the indictment including an allegation of that other offence, the jury may return an alternative verdict as provided under the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 s239 (1).
The availability of the alternative verdict depends upon the terms in which the charged offence is worded and not upon the evidence adduced at the trial. This means that the accused cannot be found guilty of a lesser offence unless the evidence presented at the trial led to support the conviction on that charged. This was ruled in the cases of R v Salisbury  VR 452; Reid v R  VSCA 234; Pollard v R  VSCA 95; R v Perdikoyiannis  SASC 310.
Although an alternative verdict is available under the Victorian law, the trial court judge is under no obligation to leave such a verdict to the jury. This is dependent on the course of the trial and the evidence adduced in the case.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.