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Pre-Indictment Conferencing / Grand Jury

One of the screening options of the PIP (pre-indictment processing) court is the referral of criminal complaints to a Grand Jury. It is the duty of the Grand Jury to hear the evidence against the defendant and decide if there is sufficient evidence to formally charge, or indict, the accused. After listening to witnesses, viewing physical evidence, if any, and discussing the case, the Grand Jury can vote:

  • a True Bill, which formally charges the accused,
  • a No Bill, which dismisses the charges, or
  • a No Bill/Remand, which refers the case back to the municipal court on lesser charges
The Grand Jury is an independent body consisting of 23 members of the community, with 12 affirmative votes needed in order to return an indictment. The proceedings are private, but a transcript is made for use by the court, the Prosecutor's Office and the defendant. The defendant may, or may not, choose to testify before the Grand Jury.

It is the responsibility of the assistant prosecutors assigned to the Grand Jury Unit to review the cases and then present the witnesses and evidence to the jury. The assistant prosecutors must also impartially explain the law to the Grand Jury on the charges facing the defendant. If the defendant is indicted, the prosecutors prepare and sign the indictment, a written document outlining the charges that is filed with the court and provided to the defendant. There are two assistant prosecutors who routinely present cases to the Grand Jury. Attorneys assigned to special squads, such as the Homicide Unit, present their own cases to the Grand Jury.