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How are the grand jury and trial jury different?

On Behalf of The Foley Law Firm | August 27, 2021

Many people have heard of the trial jury, but some don’t realize that there’s sometimes another jury that’s part of a case in the criminal justice system. This is the grand jury. Unlike the trial jury, the grand jury doesn’t decide whether a person is guilty or not. Instead, the grand jury reviews the prosecution’s case and gives its opinion about it.

The trial jury is smaller than the grand jury. Typically, the trial jury will only hear one case or a series of cases that are occurring in one day.

The members of the grand jury often serve months at a time, but they only meet periodically. They’ll hear all the cases that come through during their term.

Why would a prosecutor use a grand jury?

The grand jury hears the prosecution’s case and determines whether it has a good chance of success in an actual criminal trial. If the jury thinks it does, the jurors will return an indictment. If the jurors don’t think it has a viable chance, they won’t return the indictment.

It’s up to the prosecutor if they want to follow the grand jury’s recommendation. Unlike the decision of a trial jury, the decision of a grand jury isn’t binding. The prosecutor is free to do the opposite of what a grand jury recommends.

Anyone who’s being investigated for criminal charges, as well as those who are currently facing charges, should ensure they understand the criminal justice system as it applies to them. Working with someone who is familiar with this process may be beneficial to people in this situation.

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