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Understanding 2 basic jury types

In criminal law cases, you might deal with two very different juries: the grand jury and the trial jury. While both of these juries are comprised of individuals selected from throughout the area -- a jury of your peers -- they have very different duties within the criminal court.

The trial jury is actually what most people think of when someone talks about a jury. This is the group of six to twelve individuals who make a decision of innocence or guilt in a formal criminal trial. The trial jury is selected from a group of people who are called for jury duty. Attorneys for either side are able to ask questions of the potential jurors and object to a certain number of jurors. Usually, attorneys object to jurors because they feel like they will be biased one way or another in the case.

The trial jury does not control the trial -- that is the judge's job. They usually cannot ask questions. They simply hear all the evidence and arguments and then weigh that information according to the law to make a decision.

The grand jury actually comes before the trial. In some cases, a grand jury is called to determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial to even occur. If the grand jury decides that there is enough evidence for a trial, then they decide to indict the defendant.

A grand jury is usually comprised of more people than a trial jury, and they work for several months off and on to provide assistance to the prosecutor. Grand jury members can sometimes ask questions or ask the prosecutor to ask specific questions of witnesses.

Whether you are facing a grand jury or a trial jury, having an experienced lawyer on your side is important. He or she works to have the case go your way at every step of the process.

Source: FindLaw, "What's the Difference Between a Grand Jury and a Trial Jury?," accessed May 13, 2016

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