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Definition of Grand Jury

A grand jury has the legal authority to investigate potential criminal actions and to determine if criminal charges should be filed.The "grand jury" in the United States is composed of 23 citizens. The grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence but rather decides if charges or an indictment should be brought against a defendant. The grand jury works for months at a time but only for a few days each month.

Evidence and testimony is presented to the grand jury with less strenuous rules for admission. Generally, the grand jury can view and hear almost any type of evidence they want to hear to come to their decision. An indictment is only filed if the grand jury has a super majority. Defendants can still be brought to trial without a grand jury indictment, but the grand jury process gives the prosecution information about the strength of their case. If the grand jury does indict, the prosecution does not have to prove to the trial judge they have enough evidence to indict the defendant they can simply proceed to trial.

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