Rule 556.11. Proceedings When Case Presented to Grand Jury.

 (A)  A grand jury has the authority to:

   (1)  inquire into violations of criminal law through subpoenaing witnesses and documents; and

   (2)  based upon evidence it has received, including hearsay evidence as permitted by law, or upon a presentment issued by an investigating grand jury, if the grand jury finds the evidence establishes a prima facie case that (1) an offense has been committed and (2) the defendant has committed it, indict defendant for an offense under the criminal laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; or

   (3)  decline to indict.

 (B)  After a grand jury has considered the evidence presented, the grand jury shall vote whether to indict the defendant. The affirmative vote of at least 12 grand jurors is required to indict.

 (C)  In cases in which the grand jury votes to indict, an indictment shall be prepared setting forth the offenses on which the grand jury has voted to indict. The indictment shall be signed by the grand jury foreperson, or deputy foreperson if the foreperson is unavailable, and returned to the supervising judge.

 (D)  Upon receipt of the indictment, the supervising judge shall:

   (1)  provide a copy of the indictment to the Commonwealth authorizing the attorney to prepare an information pursuant to Rule 560; and

   (2)  forward the indictment to the clerk of courts, or issue an arrest warrant, if the subject of the indictment has not been arrested on the charges contained in the indictment.

 (E)  At the request of the attorney for the Commonwealth, the supervising judge shall order the indictment to be sealed.

 (F)  In cases in which the grand jury does not vote to indict, the foreperson promptly and in writing shall so report to the supervising judge who immediately shall dismiss the complaint and shall notify the clerk of courts of the dismissal.


   Nothing in this rule is intended to preclude the investigating grand jury, when sitting as an indicting grand jury and as part of its determination of whether to indict, from considering evidence already presented to it during an investigation.

   When the grand jury votes to indict the defendant, the vote to indict is the functional equivalent of holding the defendant for court following a preliminary hearing. In these cases, the matter will proceed in the same manner as when the defendant is held for court following a preliminary hearing. See, e.g., Rules 547 and 560.

   The indictment required by paragraph (C) no longer serves the traditional function of an indictment, but rather serves as an instrument authorizing the attorney for the Commonwealth to file an information. See Rule 103.

   Concerning hearsay evidence before the indicting grand jury, see Commonwealth v. Dessus, 423 Pa. 177, 224 A.2d 188 (1966).

   In cases in which the grand jury has declined to indict and the complaint has been dismissed, the attorney for the Commonwealth may reinstitute the charges as provided in Rule 544.

   Official Note

   New Rule 556.11 adopted June 21, 2012, effective in 180 days.

   Committee Explanatory Reports:

   Final Report explaining the new rule published with the Court’s Order at 42 Pa.B. 4153 (July 7, 2012).


   The provisions of this Rule 556.11 adopted June 21, 2012, effective in 180 days, 42 Pa.B. 4140.

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