The purpose of the Grand Jury is to hear evidence in criminal cases, and to evaluate the same to determine if probable cause exists to charge an individual with a criminal offense. The Grand Jury hears numerous cases each day, and does not determine the guilt or innocence of the defendants in the cases. There is no judge nor defense attorney involved in the Grand Jury process. If the Grand Jury rules that probable cause exists to charge the individual, then a “True Bill” is signed, and the defendant is formally indicted on the felony charges the Grand Jury recommends. The case then proceeds to trial in the Common Pleas Court to determine the defendant’s guilt or innocense.
The Grand Jury typically meets once a week for a term of three months. If the caseload requires it, additional days are scheduled.
Those citizens who are chosen to serve as Grand Jury members must dedicate themselves to the process, and attendance at all sessions of the Grand Jury is essential. Although it is a considerable time commitment, the vast majority of citizens who serve as Grand Jurors describe their experience as being extremely rewarding.
To see a flow chart of the criminal prosecution process click this link.