The function of the Grand Jury is to evaluate evidence to determine whether or not a person should be formally accused of a specific crime. If an indictment is returned by a Grand Jury accusing a person with a crime, the case will be sent to a trial court.
Attorneys assigned to the grand jury review investigations from police agencies and prepare and present the cases to the grand jury.
Assistant criminal district attorneys assigned to grand jury present cases to a grand jury every week, indicating the kind of offense to be considered, summarizing the evidence, calling witnesses, and answering questions by grand jurors. After hearing the evidence from the attorney and witnesses, the grand jurors deliberate as a group and vote in secret.
Only members of the grand jury are permitted to be present during the deliberations and voting. The grand jury decides whether sufficient facts justify a criminal charge or charges against the person accused. Guilt or innocence is not determined by a grand jury. If at least nine grand jurors vote that a person should be formally charged with a crime, an indictment is signed by the foreman of the grand jury and turned over to the district court. If the evidence is determined to be insufficient, the grand jury may vote a “no bill”.
A grand jury consists of 12 Tarrant County citizens selected by a district judge who presides over the grand jury. Two grand juries are in session at any given time. Each grand jury meets three days a week during the three month session. A total of eight grand juries meet during a given year and together will hear over 14,000 cases. The grand jurors are paid a daily stipend for their service.
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