woman facing jury

Prospective grand jurors will receive a notice in the mail indicating they have been summoned for grand jury service. If you receive this notice, you may have questions such as what does being a grand juror entail; how was I selected; and how will my service impact my daily life for the duration of my service.

The grand jury’s main purpose is to analyze evidence presented by prosecutors and witnesses and determine whether that evidence provides reasonable cause to believe a certain crime was committed by a certain individual.

When a grand jury determines there is sufficient reasonable cause, the grand jury may vote to formally accuse someone of a crime. This accusation is called an “indictment,” also known as a “true bill” which is short for “bill of indictment.” The grand jury may determine there was not sufficient reasonable cause and vote to dismiss the charges, known as “no true bill.” Felony cases cannot proceed to trial without grand jury action.

Serving on the grand jury is an important public service. For many, this is the only encounter they will ever have with the criminal justice system. It gives jurors great insight into our trial system, and directly shows how the process provides a fair and honest method of indictment.

Being a grand juror also gives citizens a sense of accomplishment in knowing they have positively contributed to their community. Having a voice that matters brings great pride to those who serve. It often empowers citizens to be more involved in the criminal justice system.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why was I chosen to be a grand juror?
Grand jurors are randomly chosen from an eligible pool of citizens. Jobs, responsibilities, and other qualifications are not taken into account.

Any Westchester County resident who is a United States citizen living in the U.S. 18 years old or older may be called. Jurors must be able to communicate in English. Citizens cannot serve if they have been convicted of a felony.

What is the difference between being called for a trial jury and a grand jury?
In general, there are two types of notices a qualified juror can receive: a summons to serve on a trial or “petit jury” or to serve on the grand jury.

While criminal trial jurors determine a defendant’s ultimate guilt or innocence, grand jurors hear relevant evidence to determine if an individual should be formally charged with a crime by way of indictment.

Grand jurors must apply the law and prospective charges as given by the prosecutor to the evidence and determine what action to take. Among the legally permissible actions, a grand jury may vote to indict an individual by returning a true bill or to dismiss the charges by returning no true bill (as explained above).

How many people sit on the grand jury?
The grand jury has a maximum of 23 jurors sitting for one case. However, there only needs to be 16 jurors to constitute a quorum for a case to be heard. Once the case is heard, a minimum of 12 jurors who have heard all the essential and critical evidence and the legal instructions must agree.

How long will I be expected to serve?
In Westchester County, grand jurors sit for no less than one month and must be available until the grand jury has completed its business. Be sure to make plans regarding any child care, work events or other conflicts that may arise during your service.

Where do I report for grand jury service?
When reporting for grand jury service, you go to the Richard J. Daronco County Courthouse, at 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, White Plains, NY 10601.

For more in depth information about grand juries and grand jury service, you can download the Grand Juror's Handbook from the Office of Court Administration.


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