When a person is arrested and facing criminal charges, it's very important for that person to know not only the charges being faced, but also how the entire process is going to play out. While many people think that this starts with a trial, that is not always the case. It may start with a grand jury.
In a lot of ways, a grand jury is similar to a preliminary hearing. The goal is to examine what information and evidence the prosecution has brought forward. The jury takes a look at that evidence and decides if the case should go to trial.
In some cases, the grand jury might think that there is not enough evidence or that the evidence is never going to hold up in court. In that case, the jury will recommend that a trial not be held at all. This can end the process and the person can be released.
However, it is most important to note that a grand jury does nothing at all to decide a person's guilt. That is never considered. The jury just looks at evidence. If the jury does recommend that the case go to trial -- this is an indictment -- that does not indicate that the jury members think that the person committed the crime. All it means is that the evidence was sufficient to warrant putting it before a trial court.
If you'd like to learn more about the criminal trial process or your rights under the law in North Carolina, please take a moment to visit our informative site to find all of the answers you seek.