A: You hear the term all the time, but what makes a grand jury so special? Well, unlike regular jurors who hear both sides of a case, the grand jury only hears the State’s side of a criminal case shortly after a defendant is arrested.
The job of the grand jury is that of a filter – to decide if there’s enough evidence to officially charge the defendant with the crime – not to decide if the defendant actually did it. Of course, those of you familiar with TV court room dramas will find the grand jury layout particularly strange.
In a grand jury hearing, there is no judge, no defense attorney, and no defendant — only the prosecutor putting on a case before the jurors to prove that the case should continue (that the defendant should be indicted). The prosecutor has no duty to divulge any exculpatory evidence or evidence that may actually suggest the defendant is innocent. Needless to say, most grand juries find to indict the defendant.