If you are facing criminal charges, especially federal ones, you may have heard mention of a grand jury. Contrary to how it sounds, this is not some high-powered set of individuals who will determine your fate.
A grand jury’s job is not to decide whether you are guilty. Their role comes before that. It is to determine whether it is worth bringing changes against you or not.
Talking a case to trial is costly and time-consuming, so prosecutors prefer only to do so when they believe they have a good chance of winning. Otherwise, they will harm their success record.
A grand jury helps them weigh up whether it is worth it or not
There is no judge in a grand jury. The prosecutor runs the show. They must first explain how the law works to the members of the public that make up the jury. Then they can bring in the evidence and witnesses available and run them past the jury. It’s a bit like a dry run of a trial.
The question they are asking is. “Do you believe what you see means there are sufficient grounds to press criminal charges?”
The prosecutor can still decide to take a case to trial even when the grand jury does not believe there are sufficient grounds to do so. However, the prosecutor would need to convince the judge why they think the grand jury was wrong.
As a defendant, facing a grand jury comes with more privacy than a trial. If you can convince them you have no case to answer, or there are insufficient grounds to bring a case against you, you may be able to avoid the damaging spectacle of a public trial. Getting legal help to understand more will be crucial.