The grand jury is comprised of nine members of the community, including not more than five alternates, who consider evidence presented by the County Prosecutor and vote on whether an individual(s) will be formally charged with a felony criminal offense(s).
During grand jury proceedings the County Prosecutor presents and explains the charge and identifies the witnesses who will present sworn testimonial evidence. The witnesses are first questioned by the Prosecutor and then the foreperson and any members of the grand jury are free to question the witnesses. Once the grand jury proceedings are concluded, no one other than the grand jury may be present while the jurors are deliberating or voting. During deliberations, the grand jurors are required to consider the adequacy of the evidence presented and must determine whether there is probable cause to support a finding that a crime(s) has been committed. A concurrence of seven or more jurors is necessary for an indictment to be issued against an individual(s). Once an indictment is issued, the Defendant still must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial or enter a plea of guilty before a Defendant can be convicted.
A grand jury may serve for a four (4) month period. Upon application to the court by the Prosecutor, and for good cause shown, a grand jury can serve for up to nine (9) months.
Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public. Indictments become a matter of public record once they are filed with the Office of the Clerk of Court.