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Grand Jury Information

Grand jury service is quite different from service on a trial jury (sometimes called a “petit” jury). The following are some of the main differences:

  1. Grand juries decide whether there is enough evidence to charge a person with a crime. They do not decide whether the person is guilty of the crime. If the grand jury decides to charge the person with a crime and the case goes to trial, a trial jury will decide whether the person is guilty of the crime.
  2. A grand jury hears evidence only from the prosecutor, while trial juries hear from both the prosecutor and the defense.
  3. Grand jury proceedings are secret, while most trial jury proceedings are public.
  4. Grand juries are larger than trial juries. There are usually 18 persons on a grand jury, but only six or 12 on a trial jury (depending on the type of crime charged).
  5. Grand jurors typically serve longer terms than trial jurors (up to four months).

Serving on a grand jury allows you to take part in providing Alaska’s citizens with one of the most fundamental guarantees in the Alaska Constitution: the guarantee that a person will have to face serious criminal charges only if a panel of private citizens decides there is sufficient evidence to require that person to stand trial.

You do not need special experience, training, or education to serve on a grand jury, but you do need to be fair, impartial, and willing to keep an open mind.

For more information please see the Grand Jury Handbook Adobe Acrobat PDF logo

Rev. 7 March 2013
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