The Criminal Grand Jury was formed in 1991. The jurors are selected at random from the pool of jurors summoned for jury service. The Grand Jury is composed of nineteen residents of the county.
Unlike the traditional Grand Jurors who serve for a year, the Criminal Grand Jury typically serves for approximately a week. During that week, cases are brought to the Criminal Grand Jury by the District Attorney's Office for review.
While it is generally the District Attorney's Office who brings any given case to the attention of the Criminal Grand Jury, it is the Criminal Grand Jury that is ultimately responsible for any investigation they conduct and any decision they make.
If the Criminal Grand Jury should return an Indictment or Accusation, it is then the responsibility of the District Attorney to pursue the charges alleged in the Indictment or Accusation.
Responsibilities of the Grand Jury
Any kind of felony case can be brought before the Criminal Grand Jury, but only the more serious cases are typically reviewed by them. Since its inception, the Criminal Grand Jury has investigated hundreds of felony cases in Contra Costa County.
The Grand Jury has the lawful authority to investigate misfeasance (negligent conduct) and malfeasance (criminal conduct) committed by individuals.
If that individual is a public official, the Grand Jury could return an "Accusation" with the court, accusing that official of misfeasance.
If a trial jury should ultimately find the allegations in the Accusation true, the public official is removed from office.
If the Grand Jury should find an individual (whether he or she is a public official or not) committed criminal acts, the Grand Jury could return an "Indictment" to the court charging that individual with a crime.
If a trial jury should ultimately find the allegations in the Indictment true, the person charged would be sentenced by the court according to the penalties prescribed for the crime committed.