What is a grand jury? Here’s what you should know about the jury that voted to indict Trump.

Ex-President Donald Trump was charged by a New York grand jury, and his attorney says he will surrender but not consider a plea deal.

The grand jury had launched an investigation hush money payments to two women who claimed to have had sex with the former president, including adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Trump is expected to be taken into custody like any other defendant, but as a former president he will have his intelligence details by his side and an opportunity to surrender himself. Here’s what you should know about the body that indicted him:

Live Updates: Trump was “shocked” by the charges in New York.

What is a grand jury?

A grand jury is a panel of 16-23 people tasked with determining whether there is enough evidence to move the case forward.

The prosecutor is responsible for presenting evidence to the grand jury, often in the form of testimonies and documents. Both Daniels and Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime attorney who helped with the hush money payments, testified before the grand jury.

When a grand jury issues one accusation, it means they believe there is enough evidence to formally charge someone with a crime. At its core, an indictment is just an indictment document, he says Anna Cominsky, Associate Professor of Law at New York Law School.

“First and foremost, it’s sealed, which means it’s not public, so none of us know what it says right now,” Cominsky says.

As far as we know, Trump has not yet received a copy of this indictment, but it likely will when he is indicted. Sometimes, Cominsky says, they unseal the indictment before filing charges, in which case Trump’s attorneys would receive a copy detailing the charges.

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What is the purpose of a grand jury?

The purpose of the grand jury is to decide whether the prosecution has presented enough evidence to formally charge someone. You are not there to decide if the person has been proven guilty.

“The burden of proof for the prosecutor to bring an indictment and for the grand jury to vote on an indictment is significantly lighter than it is after the trial,” Cominsky said. “The onus is and will continue to be on prosecutors to prove any case they have beyond a reasonable doubt, and the prosecution is not that evidence.”

In the state of New York, one person cannot face criminal prosecution unless they were indicted by a grand jury.

Who sits on a grand jury?

In the state of New York, anyone who is a US citizen, is at least 18 years old and lives in the county in which they serve can be a juror. They must also understand and communicate in English and cannot be convicted of a crime.

New York courts have 23 members of a grand jury, with one person as a judge-appointed foreman and one as an assistant foreman. The foreman of the grand jury administers the oath to each testifying witness. The grand jury also selects a secretary for recording purposes.

The jury can serve anywhere from two weeks to over three months, depending on the case and county. You will hear many cases during this period.

According to the Administrative Office of the US Courts, these are these three groups freed from the Federal Court of Justice:

  • Members of the Armed Forces on active duty

  • members of the professional fire brigade and the police

  • Active federal, state and local government officials

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What is the difference between a grand jury and a trial jury?

A grand jury determines whether there is probable cause to believe guilt and stand trial, a trial jury (or petit jury) determines whether the accused committed the crime as charged. Trial juries consist of 6-12 people and are general public, while grand jury trials are private. For this reason, the information about Trump’s indictment is a “reasonable assumption,” says Cominsky.

“Aside from the witnesses themselves saying, ‘I went and spoke to the grand jury,’ the grand jury’s proceedings themselves are secret,” she says.

In a grand jury trial, defendants and their attorneys do not appear before the grand jury, but in a court trial, defendants may appear on their behalf, testify, and summon witnesses.

The biggest difference is the outcome — a grand jury’s decision is to press charges or not, and a trial jury’s decision is the verdict of whether it is in favor of the plaintiff or defendant in a civil proceeding or a guilty or not guilty decision in a criminal proceeding .

Does a grand jury indictment have to be unanimous?

No – but it has to be at least 12 votes to an indictment in the New York court system. A quorum of 16 grand jurors must be present for evidence and deliberation, and at least 12 grand jurors who have heard the substantial evidence must vote.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What is a grand jury? Here’s who voted to impeach Donald Trump.

Source : news.yahoo.com

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