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Grand Jury Vs. Petit Jury


A jury consists of citizens chosen to listen to the facts of a case and make a decision regarding criminal justice. There are two types of juries: petit juries and grand juries. When people think about a jury, they are probably thinking about a “petit jury.” Many people do not know about the other kind of jury. On the other hand, some people confuse grand juries with petit juries and vice versa. Understanding the difference between petit juries and grand juries is quite important. Because we know this too well, in this article, we discuss what a grand jury is and what a petit jury is, and the differences between the two.

Grand Jury

A grand jury determines whether or not there’s probable cause that a suspect committed a felony crime following a person’s arrest. Usually, misdemeanors are not presented to a grand jury. A grand jury decides whether or not to issue an indictment or a formal charge against a person accused of committing a felony offense. If a grand jury finds probable cause that a suspect committed a crime, an indictment is issued against the suspect.

Usually, grand juries work hand in hand with prosecutors who, among other things, explain the law as required at that period to the jury members. Additionally, members of a grand jury are allowed to look at any evidence they want to and interrogate anyone they think might help in the case.

Petit Jury

In a criminal case, a petit jury is a type of jury called in the trial of a specific case to decide whether or not a defendant committed the crime as charged. This is the jury that a criminal defendant is guaranteed at trial by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Differences Between Grand Juries and Petit Juries

There are several differences between grand juries and petit juries. Below are some of these differences.

  • Whereas a grand jury decides whether there is enough evidence to warrant formal charges against a suspect, a petit jury decides whether there is enough evidence to convict a suspect.
  • Members of a grand jury have the power to consider almost any kind of evidence. In contrast, members of a petit jury can only listen to reliable evidence presented by the prosecuting and defense sides.
  • Defendants have the right to appear before a petit jury, but they do not have the right to appear before a grand jury.
  • Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public, whereas petit jury proceedings are generally public. However, petit jury deliberations are private.
  • In Florida, a grand jury consists of 15 to 21 people, whereas a petit jury consists of 6 to 12 members.
  • In a petit jury, the decision to acquit or convict a person has to be unanimous from all jurors. In contrast, in a grand jury, the determination that there is probable cause that a suspect committed an offense does not have to be unanimous. Usually, 12 unanimous votes are enough.

Contact a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney

If you need more information on grand juries and petit juries or help with a criminal case, contact an experienced and dedicated Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney at Joyce A. Julian, P.A., at 954-467-6656.

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