Criminal Grand Jury
A Criminal Grand Jury is used by the prosecution as an alternative to a preliminary hearing.
The Criminal Grand Jury is selected periodically by the presiding judge of the Court. Nineteen grand jurors and three alternates are chosen and are required to serve for a maximum of six indictment hearings or one fiscal year, whichever comes first.
Jurors are assigned to the Criminal Grand Jury through random selection. Its members are drawn from the same master jury pool as those selected for criminal and civil jury trials, i.e., the petit jury system.
Criminal Grand Jury proceedings require the attendance of at least twelve members as an indictment will not issue unless twelve jurors vote for it. The hearing consists of the District Attorney or Attorney General bringing in witnesses who will provide relevant testimony. The only non-jurors who may attend are the District Attorney or Attorney General staff presenting the case, a court reporter who makes a record of the proceedings, the witnesses who are subpoenaed and an interpreter if necessary.
After hearing the evidence and after being instructed on the law pertaining to the case, the Grand Jury then deliberates with no one else present. If there is an affirmative vote of at least twelve members, an indictment is issued.
An indictment is an accusatory pleading and not a finding of guilt. It is based on a standard of proof consisting of strong suspicion or probable cause as opposed to "proof beyond reasonable doubt” which is required for a conviction in a court trial. If an indictment is found, the defendant is then entitled to a jury trial in the Superior Court where guilt must be determined beyond a reasonable doubt by a different jury or a judge.
The Criminal Grand Jury is separate from the Civil Grand Jury.
Criminal Grand Jurors are paid $15.00 per day and mileage at current County rate.