When you’re accused of a crime and are going to court, you may be part of a grand jury investigation. The grand jury has to listen to the prosecution and defense. It is there to help make a decision on your case moving forward to trial, instead of leaving the decision to the judge alone.
With a grand jury case, there may not be a judge present. Sometimes, there is only a prosecutor. The prosecutor talks to the jury and provides them with evidence and a chance to listen to testimonies.
Why use a grand jury proceeding instead of a traditional trial?
Grand jury proceedings are highly confidential, which can be beneficial for the defendant and witnesses who will be testifying. Why?
First, with a grand jury in place, the witnesses are able to speak without the fear of retaliation. Their names and identities are kept secret and blocked from the public.
Second, the defendant’s reputation can be protected. For example, if you did not commit the crime and end up in a grand jury proceeding, then their identity is protected. If the grand jury decides not to indict the person, then they have not had the case exposed to the public or their name used publicly in relation to the case and charges.
In a normal court case, juries are made up of six to 12 jurors, but a grand jury can have between 16 and 23. If you will be going before a grand jury, you may want to speak with your attorney about whether or not you need representation at that time. It’s not common, but it could be beneficial depending on your situation.