Grand Jury vs Petit Jury: Difference and Comparison

Besides the judgment provided by the official, a group of citizens also plays a crucial part in the judgment of various criminal activities. In the end, whether ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty will tell the verdict of the case.


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Moreover, there are different types of cases that certainly have different types of juries, for instance, the Grand Jury and the Petit Jury.

Key Takeaways

  1. A grand jury is responsible for determining whether there is enough evidence to indict a suspect and bring them to trial.
  2. A petit jury listens to evidence presented during a trial and decides whether or not the defendant is guilty.
  3. A grand jury consists of more members than a petit jury.

Grand Jury vs Petit Jury

The difference between Grand Jury and Petit Jury is that Grand Jury uses trials that depend on the evidence provided by the attorneys of the Government, while Petit Jury takes account of the plaintiff and defendant’s evidence for the trials. 

Grand Jury vs Petit Jury

Grand Jury is a type of jury in the United States Courts. Grand Jury takes account of the US attorney as well as the prosecutors in the federal US criminal cases evidence for the verdict of guilt or not. A grand jury consists of sixteen to twenty-three people.

Usually, the grand jury’s proceedings aren’t presented in public, including the defendants and their attorneys.

On the contrary, Petit Jury is a type of trial jury that decides whether the defendant has committed or harmed the plaintiff in any way in a civil case. It encompasses around six to twelve people for the trial.

Besides, the defendants can approach the jury along with their attorneys for testification.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonGrand Jury Petit Jury 
MeaningGrand Jury is a group of individuals asked to conduct legal proceedings, where they predominantly depend on the evidence provided by the Government or prosecutor, and determine if there are any criminal charges and state the judgment. Petit Jury is a group of Individuals who take evidence and points from both sides to state the verdict- Defendant as well as Plaintiff for the trials. 
HistoryThe very first Grand Jury encountered in an act of Henry II of England- The Assize of Clarendon, back in 1166. Petit Jury came to light in an act of Henry III.
PurposeGrand Jury brings those suspects who may be guilty of a crime and prove that they’re culpable by the evidence submitted by the Government or attorney. On the other hand, the institution also bolsters the suspect from being framed. The main purpose of the Petit Jury is to bring either guilt or absolvement to the defendant by proving the evidence of a criminal charge. 
How does it Function Unlike other juries In the Grand Jury, there is no presence of the public, defendant, suspect or their attorneys. Only the prosecutor explains and brings justice to the case. Petit Jury conducts along with the presence of the public and members of both parties- Defendant and plaintiff. The petit Jury follows the Judge’s guidance and states the verdict on which party was found guilty. 
Number of membersIt differs in some countries, Where in the US Grand Jury consist of 6 to 12 Jurors, while in the federal system it has 16 to 23 jurors.In the Petit Jury, only 6 to 12 Jurors have consisted in the institution while discussing the case. 

What is a Grand Jury?

The real work of the Grand Jury comes in by determining whether criminal charges should be done or not.

It is a group of sixteen to twenty-three jurors under the empowerment of legal law procedures, such as conducting legal proceedings, investigating potential criminal conduct, and more.

Factually, in the US court, grand juries consist of around 6 or 12 jurors, while in the federal system, around 16 to 23 jurors.

In the place of a Grand Jury, it is a normal and casual courtroom with no presence of any public or the defendant or their attorneys, except the prosecutor, who explains the law.

Coupling Grand Jury and prosecutors, they scrabble around for evidence and testimonies for the case.

Accordingly, the Grand Jury is presented with the evidence rendered by the US attorney and the prosecutors in criminal cases.

Their job is not only to determine whether the individual is guilty or not but also can bring criminal charges or indictments against a potential defendant.

Moreover, the final verdict is the ‘probable cause’ claiming whether to believe the individual has committed a crime and is put on trial or not.

grand jury

What is Petit Jury?

Coming to the latter part, the petit jury is also known as the trial jury, as they listen to the evidence offered by the plaintiff as well as the defendant in a trial.

The petit jury is widely filled with six to twelve people, who are in charge of deciding the verdict under the judge’s guidance.

Shortly after gathering the evidence from both parties, the petit jury follows the judge’s instruction and retreats for deliberation to consider the verdict.

Having that said, the trial takes place in public, meanwhile, the deliberation is privately discussed.

Their verdict declares the stand to whether the defendant or the plaintiff in a civil case, while in criminal cases, declares the guilty or not guilty sentence.

Over and above, they also take care of the plaintiff’s condition in a civil case, as in protection from the defendant’s approach. Meanwhile, the defendants are asked to appear, witness, or testify in front of the trial for a clear-cut verdict.

petit jury

Main Differences Between Grand Jury and Petit Jury

  1. Grand Jury is conducted by the prosecutor along with the judges who determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty with the help of evidence submitted by the Government. On the other hand, Petit Jury is conducted in an open ground, where both the parties- Defendant and the plaintiff are presented. The Petit Jury follows the Judge’s instruction in order to bring deliberation. 
  2. Grand Jury was founded by Henry II, whereas Petit Jury is encountered in the act of Henry III. 
  3. Grand Jury consists of 16 to 23 according to the Federal system, and in general, it should be 6 to 12 jurors. On the other hand, Petit Jury must consist of 6 to 12, even in the federal system.
  4. In the Grand Jury, only the prosecutor is presented while discussing the case along with the judges. But in the Petit Jury- public, Defendant and Plaintiff are present, where Prosecutors inquire about the proxy of the case and state the verdict by following the Judge’s instructions. 
  5. Grand Jury is conducted in order to find the culpable by the evidence of law or Government, without taking any points from any parties. But, In the Petit Jury, the verdict is corroborated by discussing the points said by both parties. 
Difference Between Grand Jury and Petit Jury

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