This panel is randomly selected from residents who are summoned to report for jury duty here at the Mobile County Courthouse. The grand jury meets for one week, once a month. If you are selected for grand jury duty, you will serve two one-week terms.
What the Grand Jury does
The grand jury hears criminal cases brought by law enforcement agencies such as the Mobile Police Department, the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department, the Alabama State Troopers, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and the police departments from the other municipalities across Mobile County. The panel does not decide guilt or innocence.
They hear a small portion of each case to determine "probable cause," as to whether a crime took place and who likely committed the crime.
What a "true bill", or indictment, means
At the end of each week of service, the grand jury issues indictments, or true bills, on all cases for which they have found probable cause exists.
What a "no bill" means
For those cases where the grand jury does not find probable cause, the panel issues no bills, and the case is dropped.
Grand Jury proceedings are secret and confidential
The work of the grand jury is done in secret and is kept secret, to protect the innocent who may be accused, as well as to prevent an accused who may be indicted from leaving the community before arrest.
Once an indictment is issued, law enforcement arrests that person and charges him or her with a crime, formally bringing the case into the criminal justice system. Only prosecutors presenting the cases and their witnesses are allowed in the grand jury room.
Defendants do not testify before the grand jury, except in very unusual circumstances.
It is important for everyone to remember that discussing anything about grand jury proceedings before that information is filed with the circuit clerk's office and is made public information is a criminal offense.