Grand Jury—Pennsylvania Courts

How Does a Grand Jury Work and What Happens if You’ve Been Indicted

We all have heard of a grand jury, but how they work, the purpose they serve, and how they differ from a trial jury, is sometimes a muddled and confusing.

grand jury box pennsylvaniaGrand juries are written into the U.S. Constitution under the 5th Amendment which serves to safeguard the accused of unwarranted charges by the government. The 5th Amendment declares, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury ….”­

A grand jury is like a trial jury, in that people from the community are selected to serve on the jury. However, a grand jury may serve much longer (18 months to two years) and meet only once a week, as opposed to daily. The purpose of the grand jury is not to determine whether a person is guilty or innocent or whether they committed the crime in question, but whether there is ample evidence to bring forth charges for a crime.

Unlike a trial jury, the verdict does not need to be unanimous; only a majority or super majority of votes is needed to determine whether the criminal case should proceed. However, even if the grand jury does not move forward with a criminal case, a prosecutor could still pursue charges though a preliminary hearing.

A grand jury has a wide range of power to issue subpoenas and call witnesses and physical evidence.

Grand Juries in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a grand jury can begin at the county level by a prosecutor who submitting an application to a presiding judge to summon a grand jury. It can also begin at a multi-county level by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s request to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Types of crimes that may provoke a grand jury include certain sex crimes, federal crimes, and drug crimes.

At Ketchel Law, we represent people indicted under a grand jury and can help defend your rights and apply legal expertise to your case.

Federal vs. State Grand Juries

A U.S. federal grand jury and a state grand jury operate under different rules. Pennsylvania rules are different from Federal rules, even though Federal grand juries and courts operate inside Pennsylvania.

If you are indicted under a Federal grand jury in Pennsylvania, you will need to seek a Federal Crime Attorney in Pennsylvania, licensed to represent you and practice law under the U.S. federal court system.

Your Rights Under a Grand Jury

If you were indicted under a grand jury, you still have plenty of rights and options to explore in order to defend your rights and freedom.

Speak with an Attorney—Free Consultation

An experienced Pittsburgh Criminal Attorney who has successfully represented clients facing grand jury indictments can help you understand your rights and legal options. It is very easy to self-incriminate if you do not have an attorney present when speaking to a grand jury or prosecutors.

Call Attorney Ketchel today for a free consultation.

Additional Resources on Grand Juries