For people who are being accused of serious crimes, hearing that their case is going before the grand jury is one thing they might hear is going to happen. It’s imperative that they understand exactly what the grand jury does and what this means for their case.
A grand jury doesn’t determine whether a person is guilty or not. Instead, they look into the evidence that the prosecution has to decide if the evidence is sufficient to warrant a trial. These juries usually only hear cases that are serious felonies.
Who sits on a grand jury?
The grand jury is comprised of regular citizens. There are typically 16 to 23 individuals on this type of jury. Instead of hearing only one case like a trial jury, they will usually serve a few days a month for a few months at a time.
What happens during the grand jury proceeding?
These hearings are informal when compared to trials. Oftentimes, there aren’t any lawyers present except for the prosecutor. There isn’t a judge. The prosecutor leads the proceedings by explaining the legal concepts that are at the heart of the case. The jurors can ask questions, and these proceedings are confidential.
The grand jury will either issue an indictment or decline to issue one, although many have said that grand juries tend to be heavily slanted toward the prosecution. It’s up to the prosecutor to determine whether they will follow the grand jury’s recommendation. Just the same, it’s wise to remember that a grand jury’s indictment does not mean you will necessarily be convicted of anything.
If you know that you’re facing a grand jury proceeding, speaking to an attorney about the case is often beneficial. This is your chance to get started on the defense strategy so you have time to work on it before the trial.