How Does a Grand Jury Work?

A grand jury is randomly selected from a pool of registered voters. Jury selection is like a lottery- your ticket is your voter registration and if the Court draws your ticket, you report for grand jury duty. The Court knows nothing of your personal or demographic information when you are selected.

  • Selected jurors report to the court where they are asked questions about their abilities to be fair and impartial.
  • 9 primary jurors and 3-5 alternate jurors are empaneled. Alternate jurors will not vote unless a circumstance requires them to take a primary juror’s place.
  • Jurors are provided evidence about the cases; this may be testimony, video, audio, photos, reports, etc. Witnesses who take the stand may include eyewitnesses, responding officers, experts, and in some cases the accused individual. Jurors are also informed about the law related to the case and potential affirmative defenses. The testimony is recorded but is very rarely released to the public.
  • After the jurors are educated about the case and about the law, they deliberate on whether there is enough credible evidence to charge an individual with a crime. This is called probable cause. While the testimony is recorded, these deliberations are not recorded.
  • Jurors vote on each charge. 7 out of 9 jurors’ votes are required to issue an indictment.
  • The jury may vote to issue indictments on all, some, or no charges. A decision with an indictment(s) is called a “true bill”; a decision without an indictment is called a “no bill”
  • True Bill Issued: The process will continue through the justice system for an initial appearance, arraignment, pre-trial, and potentially a trial that may include another jury.
  • No Bill Issued: The criminal process concludes.

Sources used to compile this information:  

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2939 Grand Juries:

Ohio Prosecuting Attorney Association :

ACLU of Ohio :

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