What Is the Function of a Grand Jury?
A grand jury is a group of citizens who are empowered to hear certain evidence presented by prosecutors, and to take various actions regarding the evidence and legal charges they are to consider. The grand jury also has legal authority to conduct independent investigations. Upon the presentation of testimony and other evidence by the State’s Attorney’s Office, grand jurors must make a determination whether to issue an indictment in the case. An indictment is a formal written document charging an individual or individuals with the commission of one or more felonies. Such a determination is based upon a finding that probable cause exists to support the charges considered against the defendant. In Prince George’s County, each grand jury is comprised of 23 county residents. At least 16 members of the grand jury must be present for the grand jury to hear evidence and take action. Furthermore, at least 12 of the members who have heard the evidence must agree in order for an indictment to be approved (i.e., a simple majority). Members of the grand jury sit for approximately 4-month terms. There are 2 separate grand juries in Prince George’s County - 1 meets on Tuesdays and the other meets on Thursdays.