Glossary: Grand Jury

Posted: May 29, 2022

Grand Jury:

A grand jury is a pre-trial investigatory body that seeks to gather facts about a case and determine whether these facts are strong enough to indict a suspected criminal. Only when the majority of the jury members return an indictment can the prosecutor file charges against the defendant. 

Examples of “grand jury” as used in sentences include:

  • All witnesses in the car accident lawsuit have already testified before the grand jury in New York. 
  • The grand jury returned an indictment on his car accident case.

Grand Jury Selection Process

The grand jury comprises 23 civilians summoned by the court to investigate charges against an alleged criminal. The federal law specifies that the selection of jury members must be random and fair, and members must be chosen from the jurisdiction in which the grand jury convenes. That grants every community member an equal opportunity to serve. 

The names of potential jurors are randomly selected from the list of registered voters following non-discriminatory procedures. Individuals not excused from the duty will appear before the trial judge, and once exemption requests have been reviewed, the judge will order the prosecution to choose 23 individuals for the grand jury. 

How a Grand Jury Works

While a grand jury collaborates with the prosecution, it runs its investigatory task free from the influence of the charge or a car accident attorney. The prosecutor explains the laws regarding the case and tries to find probable cause to file charges against an alleged criminal (for instance, an at-fault driver in a felony truck accident involving gross negligence.)

The grand jury will summon and interview witnesses to gather facts. It also has increased freedom to see more evidence by reviewing subpoena documents and additional witness testimonies. 

There’s no standard timeline for a grand jury. It may convene for a few months up to one year. 

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