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Comparing Trial Juries and Grand Juries

If you were called to serve on a jury, would you know the difference between a trial jury (also referred to as a petit jury) and a grand jury?  Here are the main features of the two types of juries in a nutshell.

  • 6-12 members
  • Role is to decide whether the defendant injured the plaintiff (civil case) or committed the crime as charged (criminal case)
  • Trials are generally public, but jury deliberations are private.
  • Defendants have the right to appear, testify, and call witnesses on their behalf.
  • Final outcome is a verdict, in favor of plaintiff or defendant in a civil case, or guilty/not guilty in a criminal case.
  • 16-23 members
  • Role is to determine whether there is "probable cause" to believe that an individual has committed a crime and should be put on trial.
  • Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public.
  • Defendants and their attorneys do not have the right to appear before the grand jury.
  • Final outcome is decision to indict (formally accuse) the defendant or not.