The Grand Jury
If a criminal case has not been resolved, downgraded, diverted or dismissed, the State will present the case to a grand jury for an indictment. The grand jury is composed of ordinary citizens. They are selected from voter registration, motor vehicle records and tax lists. The county prosecutor presents evidence to the grand jury, which is charged with determining if there is sufficient evidence to formally charge defendant with a crime. An indictment is not a finding of guilt. Rather, it is merely an accusation. As a general rule, neither the defendant nor their attorneys are present during the grand jury proceedings. Witnesses, often the police officers who investigated the alleged crime, normally testify regarding the case. After considering evidence, if a majority of the 23 grand jurors vote to return an indictment, the defendant will be formally charged. The return of an indictment is called a true bill. If a majority finds the evidence to be insufficient, the grand jury enters a no bill and the charges are dismissed. The grand jury has the discretion, however, to charge defendant with a less serious crime.
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