What is a grand jury investigation?

What is a grand jury investigation?

A grand jury is a jury—a group of citizens—empowered by law to conduct legal proceedings, investigate potential criminal conduct, and determine whether criminal charges should be brought. A grand jury may subpoena physical evidence or a person to testify.

Where did the grand jury originate?

The grand jury originated in medieval England; it was in use by the reign of Henry III (1216–72). It is distinctively a development of the common law (i.e., law based on judicial decisions, as evolved in England and the United States).

What does indicted by the grand jury mean?

When a person is indicted, they are given formal notice that it is believed that they committed a crime. The grand jury listens to the prosecutor and witnesses, and then votes in secret on whether they believe that enough evidence exists to charge the person with a crime.

What happens after a grand jury indictment?

Arraignment — After an Indictment or Information has been filed and arrest has been made, an Arraignment must take place before a Magistrate Judge. During an Arraignment, the accused, now called the defendant, is read the charges against him or her and advised of his or her rights.

What do you need to know about grand juries?

In states that use grand juries, a grand jury indictment is the primary way to start criminal proceedings. Their importance and usage vary between states. States that don’t use grand juries use preliminary hearings for felony cases.

Why are the names of grand jury members kept secret?

The names of grand jury members are also kept secret to prevent bias. While secrecy can be helpful for maintaining confidentiality, it also makes the grand jury process somewhat of a mystery to most members of the public and raises questions about transparency in the court.

Why was the grand jury important in the eighteenth century?

At the start of eighteenth century, the grand jury was a key participant in the criminal justice processes of both the states and the federal government . As commentators later noted, the grand jury provided both the “shield” and the “sword” of the criminal justice system.

Can a grand jury refuse to hear evidence?

Some jurisdictions require the grand jury to listen to any witnesses presented by the prosecutor, but others still recognize the common law authority of the grand jury to refuse to hear such evidence. In all jurisdictions, the grand jury is free to seek additional evidence beyond that offered by the prosecutor.