TOMORROW the indictment in the case of Her Majesty’s Advocate v Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond will call at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh. The Crown Office is prosecuting the former first minister on one charge of attempted rape, one charge of assault with intent to rape and 12 charges of sexual assault. It alleges these offences were committed against 10 complainers at various locations between 29 June 2008 and 11 November 2014. Alex Salmond denies these charges.

This case will be decided by a jury of 15 people who will be empanelled on Monday morning. As those of you who have experienced it will know, in Scotland, juries are randomly selected from a wider pool of people summoned to the court by jury citations. In contrast with the United States where voir dire is common, there is no preliminary examination of potential jurors by the advocates appearing for either side.

Scottish juries, in contrast with those south of the Border, cannot be hung. Decision-making is by majority, and eight votes out of 15 is sufficient to convict or acquit the accused of any charge. Under Scots law, three verdicts are open to the jury, including the historical verdict of not proven. It is a common misconception, but there is no legal difference between verdicts of not guilty and not proven. Their effects are identical: both are verdicts of acquittal.

The Crown bears two burdens in this case. One is persuasive, the other evidential. It is for the advocate depute to persuade the jury, on the evidence, that these charges have proven. But Scottish prosecutors must also satisfy an evidential burden.

In criminal prosecutions, the corroboration rule still applies. This means the Crown must prove the essential facts of each charge with reference to at least two independent pieces of evidence. There are two essential facts which must be proven in most criminal cases. The first fact is that the crime set out in the indictment was committed. The second is that it was the accused who committed it.

Reporting restrictions have been applied to certain aspects of this case. There is nothing unusual about this. Because the proceedings are active – and have been active since Alex Salmond was first charged – this means the Contempt of Court Act 1981 applies to anything which appears in the public domain about this prosecution. These contempt rules will continue to apply until the case reaches its conclusion, and perhaps even beyond it.

Section 1 of the Contempt of Court Act establishes the “strict liability rule”. This criminalises publishing anything which “tends to interfere with the course of justice in particular legal proceedings regardless of intent to do so”. The 1981 Act doesn’t just apply to broadcasters, or to newspapers or columns like this one. Whether you’re communicating via Facebook, posting to Twitter, commenting under blogs, or recording YouTube videos, the 1981 Act applies to anyone and everyone and anything they broadcast to the wider world.

Good faith discussion of “public affairs or other matters of general public interest” and “fair and accurate” reports from inside the courtroom are fine, but anything which “creates a substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings in question will be seriously impeded or prejudiced” will expose anyone publishing them to real legal jeopardy. The maximum penalty for breaching these rules is two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both. As the Crown Office has been tweeting on and off for the last few months: “If you are tempted to speculate on Twitter about a person’s guilt in a live criminal case before the court reaches its verdict, consider this.”

Because this is a prosecution for alleged sexual offences, the reporting restrictions go beyond the usual contempt rules. This will impact on the coverage you will see. The Independent Press Standards Organisation has strict rules on covering these cases. Newspapers and broadcasters will not be naming any of the women involved in this case. Article 11 of the Editors’ Code also provides that the press must not publish any other material which is “likely to lead” to their identification.

This is generally called “jigsaw identification,” and is aimed at preventing journalists from publishing ancillary personal details about complainers which could easily lead them to be identified. These rules also apply in respect of all of the complainers in this case.

In sexual offence cases, the public gallery is routinely cleared when complainers are giving evidence. The accused and their legal representatives are, of course, entitled to remain to hear and to cross-examine the complainer on this evidence. So too are representatives of the media.

These rules are intended to protect the integrity of the criminal justice process, the interests of witnesses, and the fundamental right of the accused to a fair trial. The 15 jurors empanelled on the Royal Mile tomorrow will take an oath to “well and truly try the accused and give a true verdict according to the evidence”.

To them alone is entrusted the duty of deciding whether or not the case against the accused has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

We would all do well to remember that over the next four weeks.