Grand Jury

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Grand Jury

Quick Summary of Grand Jury

In criminal cases, a group that decides whether there is enough evidence to justify an indictment (formal charges) and a trial. A grand jury indictment is the first step, after arrest, in any formal prosecution of a felony.

What is the dictionary definition of Grand Jury?

Dictionary Definition

n. a jury in each county or federal court district which serves for a term of a year and is usually selected from a list of nominees offered by the judges in the county or district. The traditional 23 members may be appointed or have their names drawn from those nominated. A Grand Jury has two responsibilities 1) to hear evidence of criminal accusations in possible felonies (major crimes) presented by the District Attorney and decide whether the accused should be indicted and tried for a crime. Since many felony charges are filed by the District Attorney in a municipal or other lower court which holds a preliminary hearing to determine if there is just cause for trial instead of having the Grand Jury hear the matter, this function is of minor importance in many jurisdictions. 2) to hear evidence of potential public wrong-doing by city and county officials, including acts which may not be crimes but are imprudent, ineffective or inefficient, and make recommendations to the county and cities involved. Example: a Grand Jury may recommend that a new jail is needed, find that there is evidence of favouritism in the sheriff’s office, that some city council members are profiting by overlooking drug dealing by city staffers, or that judges are not carrying a full load of cases to be tried.

Full Definition of Grand Jury

A grand jury has the legal authority to investigate potential criminal actions and to determine if criminal charges should be filed. The “grand jury” in the United States is composed of 23 citizens. The grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence but rather decides if charges or an indictment should be brought against a defendant. The grand jury works for months at a time but only for a few days each month.

Evidence and testimony are presented to the grand jury with less strenuous rules for admission. Generally, the grand jury can view and hear almost any type of evidence they want to hear to come to their decision. An indictment is only filed if the grand jury has a supermajority. Defendants can still be brought to trial without a grand jury indictment, but the grand jury process gives the prosecution information about the strength of their case. If the grand jury does indict, the prosecution does not have to prove to the trial judge they have enough evidence to indict the defendant they can simply proceed to trial.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Grand Jury. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 22, 2021
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Grand Jury. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: September 22, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Grand Jury. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Grand Jury are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 28th April, 2020 | 1 Views.