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What Is A Grand Jury In The US

6 July, 2023


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You might be wondering what a grand jury is who tends to be present in court hearings. We are sure that you might not have known the various names that are provided to juries who are present in a court trial. 

In this article, we will discuss the meaning of grand jury and their use, along with the selection process in a court hearing. 


What Is A Grand Jury?

A grand jury is a jury that consists of no more than 23 individuals who are liable for hearing witness testimony and inspecting evidence regarding presumed criminal offenses

Grand jury members also have the freedom to conduct independent investigations of the case effectively. 

This jury has also been noted for its ability to examine the evidence effectively if it is adequate for indicting the defendant of the criminal case. 

Additionally, hearings that are preceded by grand juries are private hearings and not open to the public. Moreover, the prosecutor of such cases is known to be the legal advisor of the grand jury. 

The prosecutor has also been noted for their ability to supervise the presentation and evidence of the witness that is being presented by the grand jury. 

On the other hand, a grand jury is also not responsible for determining the guilt of the defendant. It is only responsible for determining whether the evidence provided is a probable cause of believing the defendant is guilty or not. 

Grand Jury Vs Jury: Difference

There are various major differences that are associated between a grand jury and a jury. 

The first major difference is that a grand jury is only present in criminal proceedings and cannot be seen within civil hearings. 

On the other hand, a jury, also known as a petit jury, can be present for both civil and criminal proceedings. 

Another difference between a petit jury and a grand jury is their responsibility. A grand jury has no obligation to provide a verdict on a case they are hearing. 

This means a grand jury does not provide any verdict on whether the defendant of a criminal case is guilty or innocent. This is because they are only responsible for determining whether there is probable cause for the defendant to have committed the crime. 

On the other hand, a petit jury is known to provide verdicts to the case they are hearing. Within a civil case, it might be determining the findings for the plaintiff or defendant. And in criminal cases, it can involve providing a verdict on whether the defendant is innocent or guilty. 

Further, it has also been observed that a grand jury, if they find that there is probable cause for a crime, they provide a written statement of the charges. 

This written statement of charges is termed an ‘indictment.’ These are the charges that are pressed against a defendant in a criminal case. 

When Is A Grand Jury Used?

A grand jury is a vital aspect of the investigation of federal felonies. This is especially applicable for white collar criminal matters. 

The main two functions of a grand jury are: 

  1. Investigation of the crime.  
  2. Protection of citizens against unsubstantiated criminal prosecutions. 

Additionally, a grand jury is also used in cases that solely deal with criminal laws. This is because a grand jury only precedes in a criminal trial. 

Further, a grand jury is also known to precede all federal felonies for the purpose of providing an indictment. 

So, it can be stated that a grand jury is used to acquire an indictment for the defendant who has probable cause of committing a crime. 

How Is A Grand Jury Selected?

Under federal law, it is necessary to select a grand jury in a random manner. 

This means the jurors are selected from a random list of voters who belong to a ‘fair section of the community.’ Additionally, the jurors are required to be selected from the region where the final trial will be conducted. 

The name of the jurors is also known for the capacity to effectively be drawn out from a random list of voters. The persons who are selected to be jurors for the grand jury are required to appear before the court on the given date until they are excused or exempted. 

Finally, the judge who is responsible for hearing the case is known to finalize the 23 individuals who shall precede as grand jurors during the criminal trial. 

Final Thoughts

Now you have a fair idea regarding the role and responsibility of a grand jury in the court.

Grand juries are usually involved to precede within criminal cases that are federal felonies. This is because they are required to determined to provide an indictment for a defendant who has probable cause of causing a crime. 

Hope you have found this article useful in effectively determining the concept of grand jury within the judicial system of the United States.

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Jyoti Jha is a freelance SEO content writer for tech , health, and education-related content. With 5 years of experience in the industry, I am creating high-quality content that captivates readers and delivers value.

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