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What is a federal grand jury?

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Under the United States Constitution every person has a right to have a independent body determine whether or not there’s probable cause to believe that they should have a matter brought to a jury trial. That function is served by a Federal Grand Jury. A Federal Grand Jury is nothing more than 23 citizens that hear evidence and determine whether or not there’s a basis, or a reasonable basis, to bring charges against you before a jury in Federal Court. It takes 12 of them to return what’s called a true bill of indictment. I don’t think in all my years as a Federal Prosecutor I ever once saw a grand jury refuse to return an indictment. It’s generally … that’s why there’s this old expression that you can indict a ham sandwich before a Federal Grand Jury. Basically, if the prosecutor puts forth evidence in the grand jury and asked them to indict, they’re going to do exactly what the prosecutor asked him to do.

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