no true bill | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Courts

No true bill” means that the grand jury has determined that there is not enough evidence to support the charges being considered.

In the sphere of criminal justice, juries play a crucial role. One specific type of jury is a grand jury, which decides whether there is enough evidence to accuse someone of a crime formally. If the grand jury believes the evidence is insufficient, they return a “no true bill.” Above all, this means that the grand jury has determined the evidence is not strong enough to support the charges.

How a Grand Jury Works

A grand jury is different from the type of jury you see in a courtroom during a trial. Rather than deciding guilt or innocence, a grand jury reviews evidence to determine whether there’s enough proof to charge someone with a crime.

Typically, the prosecutor presents evidence to the grand jury. This might include physical evidence, documents, or witness testimony. The grand jury then reviews this evidence. Afterward, they decide whether it’s strong enough to justify formal charges.

Decision-Making of the Grand Jury

If the grand jury believes there is enough evidence, they issue what’s called a “true bill” or an “indictment.” This leads to the defendant being formally charged and the case proceeding to trial.

However, if the grand jury decides that the evidence is not sufficient, they return a “no true bill.” This means that they believe there is not enough proof to formally charge the defendant with the crime.

The Importance of “No True Bill”

“No true bill” is a crucial part of the criminal justice system. After all, it serves as a check and balance against unfounded accusations. It protects individuals from being formally charged and potentially tried without sufficient evidence.

“No true bill” also underscores the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” This principle is fundamental to the American justice system. Before someone can be formally charged, there must be substantial evidence against them.

The Aftermath of a “No True Bill”

After a “no true bill,” the case typically ends, and the defendant is not prosecuted for the crime. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the case is closed forever. If more evidence comes to light in the future, the prosecutor could present the case to a grand jury again.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, “no true bill” is a significant term in the criminal justice system. It shows how our legal system seeks to prevent unfounded accusations and unnecessary trials. The concept of a “no true bill” ensures the grand jury system operates with fairness and integrity, protecting individuals’ rights and maintaining trust in the criminal justice process.

Learn More

On Other Sites

Washburn, K. K. (2007). Restoring the grand juryFordham L. Rev.76, 2333.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 07/01/2023


1 thought on “no true bill | Definition

  1. I testified before a jury and they voted no true bill. They were wrong and I will suffer the rest of my life based on that jurys decision. Justice does not prevail. 😭

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