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Grand Juries in Ohio


In Ohio, a crime that is to be charged as a felony will normally be presented to a grand jury.  The purpose of a grand jury is to ascertain if there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed.  This is a low standard.  All the grand jury is looking to see is if there is enough evidence to proceed with a prosecution.

A grand jury's operation is described in Rule 6 of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure.

A grand jury is composed of  nine members and up to five alternates.  One member is assigned as foreman.

When in session the only persons present is the grand jury, the prosecutor, the witness who is testifying and a court reporter.

Actions taken by a grand jury are secret.  You only learn if they issued a "true bill", which means at least seven of the nine jurors gave their approval to proceed with prosecution.

Indictment or Information

A felony punishable by death or life in prison can only proceed on an indictment.  That means the allegations must be presented to the grand jury who must agree to a true bill.  Other felonies proceed either through an indictment at the grand jury or through what is called an "information".  Given the facts, a defendant may waive the case being presented to the grand jury and agree to plead on the information.