Jury vs Grand Jury
Jury is a very important concept in the American judicial system that is critical in performing the twin functions of giving a verdict and giving a sentence or punishment. We are used to hearing verdicts given out by juries as guilty and not guilty. Many people are confused when they hear the word Grand Jury as they do not know the difference between an ordinary petit (trial) jury and a grand jury. This article attempts to find out the differences between a jury and a grand jury.
The word jury is derived from the French Jurer that means to swear under oath. It is a body of people, known as jurors, constituted to determine the truth in a case of law. Trial by a jury is a concept that has been developed to see that no innocent gets punished or imprisoned except by a due process of law.
After the declaration of Magna Carta in 1215, juries became common in most British colonies, and they were seen in both civil as well as criminal cases. Bill of Rights adopted in 1789 proposed trial by jury in all cases where the punishment exceeded $20. There are two main types of juries namely the petit juries and the grand juries.
Grand jury is a special type of jury constituted to decide whether an individual should be charged for a crime or not. This is different from a petit jury that decides on the guilt or innocence of a person. The reason to call it grand jury is also because of the fact that there are more jurors on a grand jury than a trial jury. In the case of a grand jury, the role of defense attorney is negligible, and the suspect is cross examined by the attorney from the prosecution. During the hearing, the suspect can speak to defend himself. So there is no judge or defense attorney in the case of grand juries. It is only the prosecutor from the state who presents the case in front of the jurors, and the jurors have to decide considering the fact that if there is enough evidence to charge or indict the individual.
What is the difference between Jury and Grand Jury?
• There are two main types of juries namely the petit juries and the grand juries.
• Grand jury is constituted to decide whether an individual should be charged for a crime or not.
• Grand jury does not decide on guilt or innocence like a petit jury; it is there to decide if there is enough evidence to indict the suspect.
• Grand jury has more jurors than a trial jury.
• Defense attorney has no role to play in hearings in front of grand juries whereas, in petit juries, defense attorneys present evidence and testimonies from witnesses.
• Jurors of a grand jury maintain secrecy, and the jury is closed to the public.
• A grand jury is for a fixed term of weeks or months, and it can deliberate on many cases.
• There are procedural differences between petit juries and grand juries.
• Grand jury is a special type of jury and petit juries are more common in criminal and civil cases.