Are you curious about trying to become a lawyer or paralegal and want to understand the finer details about the differences between juries? Or have you heard about a grand jury in the news and don’t understand exactly what they do? Regardless of where your interest comes from today, we have answers for you!
Grand Jury vs. Jury
Settling the “grand jury vs. jury” question is essential to appreciating how the criminal justice system works. Once you learn the difference, you will also know where you, a loved one, or a story of national interest are in the process. Soon you too may feel empowered to follow along with these critical proceedings.
What Exactly Is a Jury?
Another way of asking this question is, “What is a jury trial?”
Criminal cases in the justice system work one of two ways. You can request to have either a bench or jury trial in court. The former means that you will leave the verdict in the hands of the presiding judge, or one individual. Otherwise, the state will proceed with hearings in front of a jury. Juries consist of twelve members of the public that will decide if you are guilty or not. Once they deliver their decision, the judge establishes the punishment based on sentencing guidelines.
However, in a civil case, the jury offers what they believe to be suitable financial damages for the circumstances. If they are in a state with contributory negligence laws, they may also have to assign a percentage of fault.
How Does a Jury Work?
Jury selection is the first step in a criminal or civil trial. During this process, attorneys for either side have the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates. These inquiries will establish the person’s eligibility and how opinions they hold will affect their judgment. This step is so critical that attorneys will have a detailed profile list they want to see on the jury.
Once confirmed, these twelve individuals will sit through the hearings and listen to the evidence. After either side has presented their case and final arguments, the jury moves on to deliberations. They will debate for hours, days, or even weeks about who met the burden of proof or not. In a criminal case, they will have a vote to decide if their decision is guilty or not guilty. Judgments in civil cases will be either liable or not liable.
What Is a Grand Jury?
A grand jury becomes involved before prosecutors begin a criminal trial. Nevertheless, their purpose for existing is not to determine guilt. They are an assemblage of your peers that will offer their opinion on whether criminal charges should move forward or not. Oftentimes they function by issuing subpoenas or summons.
In essence, a grand jury represents the democratization of the legal system. This legal body has independence from prosecutors or judges. Therefore, its decisions can carry significant weight. Moreover, their approval lends credibility to what could appear to be unjust persecution.
How Does a Grand Jury Work?
Depending on the jurisdiction, there can be 6 to 23 jurists on a grand jury. They have the task of examining the evidence and investigating the allegations of criminal activity.
The proceedings have similarities to a trial, but there is a different standard for the jury’s decision. The prosecutors only have to convince a supermajority that they should move forward. This means that two-thirds or three-quarters of the participants have to agree. Once secured, a grand jury indictment means the state can go straight to court proceedings.
Work With an Experienced Local Attorney
Do you have more legal questions beyond “grand jury vs jury?”
There are further nuances to these topics, even when you understand the essentials of how the court system and courtroom etiquette works. For example, a highly-qualified lawyer in your area will have strategies to find a jury sympathetic to your cause.
We can connect you with a highly-qualified local attorney today. Furthermore, we can even find a legal counselor for you across state lines. Submit a request or call (866) 345-6784 to get the legal help you need!