Grand juries differ from trial juries in that they meet in secret proceedings and they don’t decide whether an individual is guilty of a crime, but instead they meet to decide whether an individual should be indicted (charge) for an alleged crime. Grand juries listen to preliminary evidence.
The individuals who serve on a grand jury serve for a term of 6 to 18 months and the group consists of 15-23 individuals, their findings to indict need not be unanimous so only a fraction of the individuals serving need to agree on whether to indict or not.
The reason grand juries have a lower threshold than trial juries is that they only decide to indict the alleged defendant, she/he is not legally guilty, but instead what is determined is that the prosecutor has presented enough evidence to file criminal charges against the defendant. The language used in grand juries is different than that used in criminal trials. For example, the prosecutor presents a “bill” and not a complaint and once the grand jury makes a determination on whether to indict the individual they will issue a “true bill” if enough evidence was presented to indict or a “no-bill” if they believed not enough evidence was presented.
There is no limitation on how many times the prosecutor may present the case to a grand jury even after a prior finding of “no-bill” and some jurisdiction allow prosecutors to bypass the grand jury and file the criminal complaint without the grand jury hearing the evidence.
If you or a loved one is being investigated or charged with a crime, call the Morales Law Firm today.