Grand Juries

It should be noted that the grand jury system is a mechanism for bringing a serious criminal matter to the district court. A grand jury is a panel of citizens called together to hear evidence and determine if criminal charges should be initiated.

Grand jury proceedings are private and secret, prospective defendants are not entitled to be present at the proceedings, and no one is allowed to cross-examine witnesses on the defendant's behalf. Information presented to the grand jury is presented by prosecuting attorneys.

The grand jury has broad investigative powers and may compel the attendance of witnesses or compel answers to questions and submission of records. If the grand jury determines that criminal proceedings should be initiated, it returns what is called an indictment. Based on this indictment, the court causes either a summons or an arrest warrant to be issued. The individual then appears before the district court to answer the charges and enter a plea at an arraignment. Effectively, the grand jury process eliminates the necessity for the preliminary hearing and any proceedings in the magistrate division.