The concept of a grand jury was first recognized as a part of the English Magna Carta in the year 1215. The jury was formed to help decide the guilt or innocence of the accused by way of presenting information and evidence to help make the case. If you are ever called to a jury, there are some terms you may want to brush up on. The accused is the person that is accused of the crime, they are not determined to be guilty or innocent if they are accused. You may also hear the term Charge to the grand jury, these are a set of instructions that help the jury learn what they should be doing and how they can best do their job.
As a jury member you are going to also come across the term deliberations or the discussion that you are going to have with your fellow jurors regarding if you think there is enough information to find the accused either guilty or innocent. As a juror you will be presented with evidence in the form of testimony, documents, and more.
Have you been called? Things to consider.
As a grand juror, you do have immunity from certain things if you are performing them while going through with your duty as a juror. When the grand jury hears evidence presented, the members can either hand down an indictment that is a formal charge that moves the case then to trial, or a “no bill” which means that the grand jury has chosen not to indict the accused.
An indictment cannot be handed down without probable cause which means that there has to be enough evidence to form a case against the accused. In order for the grand jury to be in session, at least 16 of the total 23 members of the federal grand jury do need to be present.
What is the grand jury?
The grand jury is formed not to present rulings as to whether or not the person is guilty but rather to determine if there is enough evidence and probable cause to send the accused to a formal trial. The tiral jury or petit jury will then take over and determine innocence or guilt based on the same evidence, and perhaps more, that was presented to the grand jury. The proceedings of the grand jury are largely protected and somewhat secret for the express purposes of making sure that those that are called are impartial to the process.
What evidence will be presented?
Attorneys for the defense and the prosecution will present their evidence in the form of police reports, written statements, experts testimony and witnesses, including the defendant if the defense attorney thinks it prudent. Witnesses testifying will be sworn in and may find themselves providing testimony that incriminates themselves in the matter.