What is the difference between a Trial Jury and a Grand Jury?
We have two kinds of criminal juries: the Trial Jury, the one with which most citizens are familiar; and the Grand Jury, the one with which most citizens are not familiar.
The Trial Jury is the one you see on TV. Twelve people determine whether an alleged criminal is guilty. Jury trials occur in a public courtroom, with a judge present, where attorneys for both sides question the witnesses, and where a conviction can be obtained only when all 12 jurors are convinced of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Grand Jury is quite different. It functions only at the beginning of the criminal investigation. Seven citizens (not 12) will have the responsibility of investigating allegations of crimes against the laws of Iowa in Polk County. The investigation usually consists of witnesses testifying before the Grand Jury, with a Prosecutor and Grand Jurors asking questions.