Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The function of the Grand Jury is to evaluate evidence to determine whether or not a person should be formally accused of a specific crime. If an indictment is returned by a Grand Jury accusing a person with a crime, the case will be sent to a trial court.
Attorneys assigned to the grand jury review investigations from police agencies, prepare and present the cases to the grand jury.
Assistant criminal district attorneys assigned to grand jury present cases to a grand jury every week. They indicate the kind of offense to be considered, summarize the evidence, call witnesses, and answer questions by grand jurors. After hearing the evidence from the attorney and witnesses, the grand jurors deliberate as a group and vote in secret.
Only members of the grand jury are permitted to be present during the deliberations and voting. The grand jury decides whether sufficient facts are presented to a criminal charge or charges against the person accused. Guilt or innocence is not determined by a grand jury. If at least nine grand jurors vote that a person should be formally charged with a crime, a true bill of indictment is signed by the presiding juror of the grand jury and turned over to the district court. If the evidence is determined to be insufficient, the grand jury may vote a “no bill”.
How is a grand jury selected?
Prospective grand jurors will be selected and summoned in the same manner as for the selection of panels for trial cases in the district courts.
From among those prospective grand jurors who are summoned, the court impanels twelve (12) grand jurors and four (4) alternate grand jurors to serve
The law requires courts to impanel grand jurors who are “randomly selected from a fair cross section of the population of the area served by the court.”
This means that even if the court summons you, you may or may not be selected to serve. If you are not selected, this is not a reflection on you, but rather the court’s attempt to comply with the requirements of the law.
Am I qualified to serve as a grand juror in Denton County?
The laws and rules regarding qualifications are found in Article 19.08 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
To be qualified to serve as a juror you must:
- be a citizen of the United States;
- be a resident of Denton County;
- be qualified under the Constitution and laws to vote in the county in which you are to serve as a grand juror. (Note: You do not have to be registered to vote to be qualified to vote);
- be able to read and write;
- not have been convicted of, or be under indictment or other legal accusation, misdemeanor theft or any felony;
- not be related within the third degree of consanguinity or second degree of affinity, as determined under Chapter 573, Government code, to any person selected to serve or serving on the same grand jury;
- not have served as a grand juror in the year before the date on which the term of court for which the person has been selected as grand juror begins; and
- not be a complainant in any matter to be heard by the grand jury during the term of court for which the person has been selected as a grand juror.
May I claim a legal exemption (be excused) from grand jury duty?
You are not required to claim an exemption even though one might apply to you. If you would like to serve even though you are eligible for an exemption then we certainly appreciate you choosing to do so. The exemptions regarding grand jury are found under Article 19.25, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
You MAY claim an exemption from grand jury service if:
- You are over 70 years of age.
- You are responsible for the care of a child younger than 18 years.
- You are a student at a public or private high school.
- You are enrolled and in actual attendance at an institution of higher education.
Note: The court also may determine if a person has a reasonable excuse from service other than those listed above.
Can I change my report date?
Unfortunately, persons summoned to appear for potential grand jury service cannot change their appearance date.
Are grand jurors paid for their service?
Grand jurors are paid for their service. Each prospective grand juror receives six dollars ($6) for the first day of appearance and then forty dollars ($40) for the second and any subsequent days of appearance. Grand jurors may donate their pay to a number of organizations that have been approved by the Denton County Commissioners Court. A total donation made by both petit and grand jurors to those organizations average about $75,000 annually.
Must my employer pay me while I’m serving as a grand juror?
Unfortunately, your employer is not currently required by Texas state law to pay you while you are serving as a grand juror. However, the law states that an employer cannot terminate your employment for attending grand jury service
What if I am self-employed?
Unfortunately there are no business/self-employment exemptions administered by the state legislature at this time.
How long does jury service last?
Those selected by a district court judge to serve on the grand jury will meet every Thursday for a three month term.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
I have received a summons for a person who is now deceased. What do I do to take care of this?
Please write on the front of the summons envelope or form “Deceased” and return to Jury Services.
I have received a summons for a person who does not live at this address. What do I do with the summons?
The summons needs to be returned indicating that the person does not live at the address. Please write "Please return to sender this person does not live at the address" and then return the envelope back in the mail.
What if I don’t have transportation?
There are no transportation exemptions. You may contact the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) at 940-243-0077. Here is a link to their website http://www.dcta.net/
which includes information regarding the new A-train which runs along I-35 to Denton.
You will be required to pass through security at any county buildings in which courts are located. You will not be allowed to bring into the buildings any type of weapon, including pocket knives. If you are wearing a belt, you will be required to remove it before passing through the metal detector. Please leave at home or in your vehicle anything you think might not be allowed in the building.
Free parking is available all around the building.