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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 29818
Experience:  Criminal Justice Degree, JD with Criminal Law Concentration. Worked for the DA and U.S. Attorney.
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what is the function of the grand jury and are they always

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what is the function of the grand jury and are they always envolved?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

At common law, the grand jury had two functions - one was to issue indictments to formally charge someone with a crime. The other was to investigate allegations that a crime has occurred. The grand jury is basically a tool used by the prosecutor to help gather evidence, including subpoenaing documents.

Pennsylvania passed a Constitutional amendment removing the grand jury's ability to issue indictments, so they are no longer used for that purpose. The grand jury does not investigate every case before charges are filed.

In Federal court, the grand jury may still issue indictments, but that is not the sole means of opening a criminal case and thus is not used in every case. For example, indictments are usually not used in misdemeanors.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

so basically they are a toll for the prosecutor and work for him/her, right?

I wouldn't say they work for the prosecutor. Members of the grand jury are compensated by the judicial department, not the prosecutor. Their job is to seek the truth. That includes sometimes saying, "No, there's not enough evidence here."
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

can the prosecutor endict/charge if they say no?

Well, in PA, the grand jury doesn't issue indictments. The thing is, the standard of proof before the grand jury is much, much lower than what the prosecutor has to prove at trial. If the grand jury doesn't think there's even enough information to believe that the subject of the investigation committed a crime, then it's extremely unlikely that a prosecutor could prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt. So most of the time, they wouldn't file charges against someone after the grand jury said there isn't enough evidence - unless more evidence was found. Most prosecutors don't file cases they can't win. They'd want more evidence.

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