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How do the grand jury and trial jury differ?

Hearing about a jury might automatically bring up thoughts of a trial jury. That isn’t the only type of jury that is involved in the criminal justice system. In some cases, the grand jury is also involved in a case. Even though the grand jury and the trial jury both have the word ‘jury’ in them, the similarities end there.

How is the grand jury involved in a criminal case?

A grand jury works with the prosecuting attorney to determine if there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime. The grand jury, which usually includes 23 people, can hear and view any evidence in the case. They can also call and interview witnesses. These proceedings are all held in confidence, so people involved are encouraged to speak freely during the grand jury proceedings. If the prosecutor doesn’t agree with the findings of the grand jury, he or she doesn’t have to abide by the findings of the grand jury.

What is the role of a trial jury in a criminal case?

A trial jury is the jury of the defendant’s peers who decides if the defendant is guilty or innocent. The trial jury must sit through the full trial of the defendant. The procedures that are used in the trial are overseen by the judge. The only evidence and testimony that the trial jury gets to consider is what is presented in court. Once the trial is over, the trial jury decides on guilt or innocence of the defendant on each charge presented.

The differences in the types of juries are only one small facet of the criminal justice system. If you are facing criminal charges, you should get as much information as possible about your charges and the court procedures that you will participate in.

Source: FindLaw, “What’s the Difference Between a Grand Jury and a Trial Jury?,” accessed Jan. 01, 2016

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