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2 types of juries in the criminal justice system

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Most people are familiar with the trial jury in a criminal matter. Some may not realize that there’s another type of jury that plays a role in some criminal matters. This is the grand jury.

The roles of these two juries are vastly different. Let’s look at some of those differences.

What does a grand jury do?

A grand jury doesn’t decide if a person is guilty or not guilty. Instead, they look at the evidence the prosecutor has for the case and determines if an indictment is appropriate. An indictment means that the grand jury believes the evidence could produce a guilty verdict in a trial.

A grand jury is large — often consisting of 23 jurors. They serve on the grand jury for months at a time and may hear many cases during that time. However, they typically only work a few days each month. The decision of the grand jury isn’t binding, so the prosecutor can choose to press charges without an indictment or decide not to press charges after an indictment.

What does a trial jury do?

A trial jury listens to the facts and information presented by both sides of the matter. The jurors are bound by specific rules. They have to understand applicable legal concepts and then determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. A trial jury is smaller than a grand jury.

Criminal charges must be taken seriously. Getting started on your defense strategy quickly is imperative. Having experienced legal guidance can help as you make decisions about the direction of your case.