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Criminal Law Research Guide

The Importance of Jury Instructions

At the end of a jury trial, members of the jury are instructed by the judge on what law is applicable to the case at hand.  Practitioners may request that certain instructions be provided to the jury, so it is important to understand how and where to find them.  Additionally, jury instructions can be a tremendously helpful resource for legal research, as they state in a clear and concise manner what elements need to be proven, pertinent cases and statutes, burdens of proof, etc. 

Free Resources

The National Center for State Courts' site is another helpful resource.

Finding Jury Instructions

Lexis: from the main page, click on Jury Instructions from the Content Type tab. Alternatively, you can run a search from the main search bar and set a filter for the category Jury Instructions, along with other relevant filters. 

If you don't find what you are looking for, try a search in your library catalog.  A subject search for 'instructions to juries--united states' works well for federal materials.  Try 'instructions to juries--[name of state]' to find relevant materials for your state.

Jury Instructions (Selected)