People accused of a criminal act might find out that the case is going before the grand jury. While many people might have heard this jury, few may realize what their role is or what that process entails.
A grand jury is much different from the jury that the court impanels for a trial jury. A grand jury generally has between 16 to 23 members, but there can be more. These individuals don’t decide if there’s enough evidence for a prosecutor to take the case to trial.
What happens during a grand jury process?
Grand jury members serve terms as long as six months. Prosecutors impanel them as necessary during their term to have them review evidence or hear testimony in a potential case. These proceedings are both confidential. Grand jurors can ask questions of prosecutors during these hearings.
Can prosecutors circumvent a grand jury’s decision?
In Georgia, the grand jury’s decision is final. The prosecutor can’t charge someone if the grand jury fails to indict them. The prosecutor might get around this by presenting the case to a new grand jury. A suspect may face criminal charges if the newly impaneled grand jury decides to indict the defendant.
Federal grand juries work a bit differently. Prosecutors can proceed in filing charges against a defendant whether a grand jury indicts them or not.
Anyone facing the possibility of criminal charges should learn more about how grand juries work. They also need to explore their defense strategy options.