There are many components that work together in the criminal justice system, but some only play a role in specific cases. The grand jury is one of these that isn’t part of every case. However, it’s very important in others.
Understanding the role of the grand jury is important, especially for people who learn that a case involving them is going before one. This jury is much different than a trial jury, so it’s important not to confuse the two.
What does a grand jury do?
The grand jury is made up of 16 to 23 people who will review the prosecution’s case against a defendant and determine whether it’s sufficient to take the case to trial. If the grand jury indicts someone, that means that the members of the jury agree that the evidence suggests that the prosecution would be successful at a criminal trial.
Proceedings involving the grand jury are confidential. The members of the jury are free to ask questions during the proceedings. These proceedings aren’t bound by the same evidence and testimony rules as a criminal trial.
Unlike the trial jury, the grand jury’s decision isn’t binding. The prosecution can decide to charge a person even if the grand jury doesn’t indict them. They could also decide not to charge someone even though a grand jury has indicted them.
Anyone who’ is facing criminal charges should ensure that they understand their rights. It’s best to review your legal options early in the case so you can determine what defense strategy is best suited for your own unique situation.