There are two main types of juries that are going to be used in New Jersey. These are known as grand juries and petit juries. It’s important to understand the differences between them so that you know how the legal process will play out if you have been charged with a crime.
First of all, as the name implies, a petit jury is a smaller jury. This is the most common type of jury. It can be used for civil or criminal cases, although the number of jurors may vary. If you are being sued in civil court by someone who wants monetary compensation, there may only be six jurors. If you are going through criminal proceedings, the jury usually goes with the more well-known number of 12 jurors.
The goal of either type of petit jury is to determine the outcome of the case. In a criminal trial, jurors can determine if someone is guilty or not, and then the judge can make a ruling on the punishment or sentence.
A grand jury is very different. It is often used before a court case if there is a chance that there is not enough evidence for the case to move forward. Evidence is put before this jury. They do not decide if the person is guilty or not, but only if they think that it is reasonable for the case to move forward. Their decision that enough evidence exists to go to trial in no way tells the next jury — the petit jury — how they should rule.
A grand jury is also much larger, as you would expect, than a petit jury. It has 23 jurors. They meet weekly for 16 weeks.
People who have a case going before either type of jury can ask their attorney any questions they have about the jury system. An experienced New Jersey criminal attorney has experience with both petit and grand juries.
Source: New Jersey Courts, “Welcome to the New Jersey Court System” accessed Feb. 06, 2015