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What is the purpose of a grand jury in a criminal case?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2021 | Uncategorized

The criminal justice system is sometimes challenging to understand, especially when it comes to the way that grand juries work and their role in a potential case.

Understanding what the grand jury does is important, especially if you’re the target of a criminal investigation. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a grand jury?

A grand jury is a large group of people who work with the prosecutor to determine whether the evidence available in a case is enough to take that case to trial. The prosecutor explains the applicable laws to the jurors. The individuals on the grand jury have considerable flexibility, so they can review the evidence and talk to witnesses before making any decisions.

Once the grand jury hears the case against the individual, they will let the prosecutor know what they think about it. If they think that that the evidence is sufficient enough to warrant a trial, the grand jury will issue an indictment. If they don’t think that the evidence is enough, they’ll decline to issue an indictment. 

The grand jury must keep everything confidential. This is so that everyone involved can speak freely. It also helps to protect the individual at the heart of the case, which is important in case the grand jury doesn’t issue an indictment. 

Does the prosecutor have to follow the grand jury’s recommendation?

The grand jury’s decision isn’t binding, so a prosecutor can forge ahead with a case even if there’s no indictment. Given the prosecutor’s considerable influence over a grand jury, however, many come back with an indictment no matter how thin the evidence.

Working with an attorney who’s familiar with criminal law is beneficial for anyone facing a grand jury. Protecting your rights and your future starts long before charges are filed or an indictment is made.