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What types of juries have roles in the criminal justice system?

There are some instances in which a person who is facing criminal charges might hear about a jury. In the criminal justice system, there are two types of juries -- the grand jury and the trial jury. While both of these juries are very important to the criminal justice system, they both serve very different purposes.

What role does a grand jury play in the criminal justice process?

A grand jury is a group of people who help to decide if cases should be prosecuted. These juries aren't tasked with determining guilt or innocence. Instead, they must decide if the case the prosecutor presents would stand up during a jury trial. Grand jury proceedings are held in private and are generally informal. Witnesses and others are encouraged to speak freely at these proceedings. Once a grand jury makes a decision about the case presented, it is up to the prosecutor to decide if he or she will follow the recommendation. It isn't mandatory for a prosecutor to follow the grand jury's recommendation. The grand jury often works for months at a time on a limited schedule.

What role does a trial jury play in the criminal justice system?

A trial jury is a jury that listens to the case presented by the prosecution and the case presented by the defense. The jurors are then tasked with determining if the defendant is guilty or innocent. Generally, a trial jury is set for one case. The six to 12 members will have to appear daily throughout the trial. While a grand jury is allowed to ask to see evidence and question witnesses, a trial jury must base their decision solely on the evidence presented during the trial.

Generally, you don't need an attorney while dealing with a grand jury. If you are going to face a trial jury, you need to ensure that you have an attorney working with you on a defense so you can be sure that your interests are being protected.

Source: FindLaw, "What's the Difference Between a Grand Jury and a Trial Jury?," accessed Dec. 22, 2015

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