A jury is a group of people sworn under oath to listen to the evidence and give a non-biased verdict during a court case. A jury is commonly used in court cases where a person is to be found guilty or not guilty of committing a crime. If you are ever arrested for a crime, it is important to note that there is a bail system in America to help you get out of jail before any trial by jury takes place.
The role of the jury is to be impartial and give an unbiased verdict based on the evidence placed before them. The verdict given by the jury is not law and does not set a precedent for a similar future case. The verdict the jury gives for a case and the evidence placed in front of them is only specific to that one case. The verdict that the jury hands down however does not always have to be followed by the judge presiding over the case and the judge can give a different final verdict during sentencing.
All members of the public able to serve on a jury are eligible. When choosing a jury, first random members of the population within the local area will be chosen. These randomly chosen people have to then pass a neutrality test to ensure that they are not more in favor of one side in the case over the other. A member of the public called for jury duty is compelled to participate. Unless the person has a profession that is deemed too important for them to be on a jury, such as a doctor, the person must go. Here are the types of jury that exist in America.
A grand jury is used in federal courts and some state courts to determine if there is enough evidence for a case to go to trial. In this instance the prosecutor has to convince the grand jury that the evidence is strong enough against the defendant to warrant a trial. A grand jury consists of twelve jury members and the in this instance the court is closed to the public. If the grand jury deem there is not enough evidence for the case to go to trial then the person accused is indicted.
A trial jury is the jury that attends a trial, listening to the evidence presented by the prosecutor and the defendant. From there the jury retires to deliberate and then deliver a verdict of guilty or not guilty. This deliberation period is private. If a trial jury cannot come to an unanimous agreement then the result is a hung jury. If the trial is for a criminal case then there are usually twelve jury members. However, for civil cases the jury may be smaller.