Grand juries have an extremely important part in many blockbuster cases but what exactly makes a grand jury different from a traditional jury? From the number of jurors to the length of serving, here is an overview of what separates them.
Amount of jurors
A traditional jury tends to be quite small depending on the length and severity of a case ranging from 6 to 12 jurors at any given time. With grand juries, however, it tends to be for very big, important cases that need more jurors to weigh in which is why they can have anywhere from 12 all the way up to 23 jurors involved.
In most cases where a jury serves only last up to a couple of days at most and then the juror will have completed their service for at least a year but grand juries are different. Grand juries can be a huge deal to people who get summoned for them because they can potentially be involved and forced to serve in some capacity for up to a year. Normally this won’t require being sequestered but you could potentially have to come in several days a week for weeks on end which would obviously have a major impact on work, family, and all other aspects of life while this is going on.
The purpose of grand juries
One thing that may be surprising to many is how differently grand juries are used compared to normal or petit juries. This is because while a normal jury will decide whether or not a defendant is guilty of the charges against them, with a grand jury the only purpose is to see if there is enough evidence and reasonable doubt that prosecutors would have enough of a case to actually pursue charges. As you can imagine, this is done for potentially massive and complicated cases.
The final main difference between grand juries and petit juries has to do with the number of cases you would hear. With a normal jury, it is one and done. If you come in for a specific case and you either get excused or the trial is very quick, that is it. After that one trial, you have fulfilled your obligations. This is not so with grand juries. With grand juries, you will not only hear multiple cases, but that is what you will be doing every day that you are on a grand jury. Since the point is not to find someone guilty but just to see if they should be charged, there tend to be far more cases to listen to and take on.
In conclusion, grand juries are definitely a much larger time commitment with a lot more involved than a traditional jury but it is still just as an important part of the legal system and many find it fulfilling and interesting to serve on them.