When someone gets a grand jury summons, it can be really intimidating given a few different factors that make it unlike serving on any other jury. From the serving time to the number of cases grand juries take on, here are the main factors that make grand juries so different from traditional juries.
Different amount of jurors
A typical jury consists of 6 to 12 jurors that depend on the length of the trial, the complexity of the case, and the severity of the charges are against the defendant. A grand jury on the other hand has double this with 12 to 24 jurors capable at any given time. This is due to the size and input needed for the cases.
Longer period of serving
One of the most difficult parts about participating in a grand jury is the time commitment that it requires. While a normal round of jury duty may take up to a couple of days at most, a grand jury summons could potentially mean spending up to a year in courthouses. While this will not be all day, every day, it will still require at least a couple of days a week as well as the need to be on call throughout the year. This is a huge undertaking for most people which is why the summons can be so intimidating.
One thing that many may not know about grand juries is that the role it plays is very different from that of a traditional jury. When you take part in a normal jury, you are working with the rest of the jurors to decide that there is enough evidence and reasonable doubt to have a guilty verdict. With a grand jury, however, evidence and arguments will still be presented but it will be to see if the defendant should be charged at all. Grand jury cases tend to be larger more complex cases so it’s important from there to be input on whether it is worth it to pursue the case in the first place.
The final thing that keeps a grand jury different from petit juries is that the focus is not on a singular case but on many. A normal jury will have duty conclude after a single case is done but a grand juror will actually hear many cases even within a single day. This is because you will only be deliberating on whether charges are viable instead of complete guilt. This is also why grand jury time commitments are so long because they try to keep the juror pool on many potential cases throughout the year.