Differences Between Grand Juries and Trial Juries

 Posted on August 16, 2019 in Criminal Defense

juryIf you have been charged with a federal crime such as healthcare fraud or federal drug trafficking, you may hear that the grand jury is convening over your case. This happens before a trial even begins, which confuses many accused individuals. Does the jury convene after the trial? What does the grand jury do?

In federal cases, there is a good chance that both a grand jury and a trial jury will hear your case. They both have very different functions, though, and are sometimes presented with different types of evidence.

The Grand Jury in Federal Cases

In a federal criminal case, the role of the grand jury is to determine if the prosecution has enough evidence to charge the accused. Grand juries are usually made up of 23 people. While the grand jury process can take months to complete, grand jurors typically do not work more than a few days per month.

A grand jury works closely with the prosecution. The prosecutor will present them with evidence, which the grand jury has large control over. During the grand jury process, the jury can hear nearly any type of evidence they would like. They can also listen to testimony from any individual that can help them make their recommendation.

The prosecution heavily weighs the recommendation of the grand jury. Prosecutors do not want to try a case unless they believe it will garner a successful conviction. As such, if the grand jury does not think the prosecution has enough evidence, they may recommend that no charges are laid. However, the prosecution is not bound by the grand jury’s decision. If the prosecution still believes they have a strong case, they can move forward with a trial.

The Trial Jury in Federal Cases

Individuals are typically most familiar with trial juries, thanks to their countless depictions on television and in the movies. Trial juries are handpicked by the prosecution and defense attorneys. There are 12 jurors that sit on a trial jury.

Trial juries are not given access to as much evidence during a trial. They also have no say in what evidence they see. Juries are expected to attend every day of the trial, which could take days, weeks, or months.

At the end of the trial, the jury will make a decision on whether the accused is innocent or guilty. This decision is final, meaning the courts will respect the decision, although the accused can appeal the decision in the case of a guilty verdict.

Contact an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney for Help with Your Charges

If you have been charged with a federal crime, there is a lot at stake. If convicted, you could face several years in federal prison, high fines, and will live the rest of your life with a criminal record. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney can help. If you are facing charges, call us today at 312-629-0669 or contact us online for your free consultation. We will discuss your case and help you build a solid defense so you can beat the charges and retain your freedom.


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