Types of Juries
There are two types of juries serving different functions in the federal trial courts: trial juries, also known as petit juries, and grand juries.
A trial jury, also known as a petit jury, decides whether the defendant committed the crime as charged in a criminal case, or whether the defendant injured the plaintiff in a civil case.
- Consists of 6-12 people.
- 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.
A grand jury is presented with evidence from the U.S. attorney, the prosecutor in federal criminal cases. The grand jury determines whether there is “probable cause” to believe the individual has committed a crime and should be put on trial. If the grand jury determines there is enough evidence, an indictment will be issued against the defendant.
- Consists of 16-23 people.
- Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public.
- Defendants and their attorneys do not have the right to appear before the grand jury.