The Indictment Process: The Grand Jury
If a criminal case has not been downgraded, diverted, dismissed, or plead out the prosecutor will present the case to a grand jury for an indictment.The grand jury is composed of a group of citizens who have been selected from voter registration lists, driver's license information and income tax information. It is their civic duty to serve.
Each grand jury which has been sworn to serve will have (23) twenty three members on it. These grand jury panel members will consider evidence presented by the county prosecutor and any witnesses. They will determine if there is sufficient evidence to formally charge a defendant and oblige him/her to respond to the charge(s) .
The indictment is not a finding of guilt or a conviction. Neither the accused or his attorney are present. Witnesses may testify regarding the crime. Defendants may testify if they are requested to attend and elect to surrender their right against self incrimination as guaranteed by the constitution. After considering the prosecutor's evidence and the testimony of witnesses, if a majority of the (23) grand jurors vote that enough evidence has been presented to warrant the defendant to answer these charges they will vote a true bill of indictment. This will trigger further proceedings in the Superior Court.
If a majority of the (23) grand jurors vote that not enough evidence has been presented they will vote a no bill of indictment. The jury may, however, decide to charge the defendant with a less serious offense, to be heard in Municipal Court. In this instance, the offense has been downgraded or remanded. The accused must appear in Municipal Court to face a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons charge.