What Happens at a Grand Jury?
If you have been charged with a crime and would like to protect yourself and your future, learn as much as you can about each step in the process. Prosecutors take some cases to a grand jury before moving forward to trial, and the outcome of the grand jury will play a role in how your case unfolds.
Taking a look at grand juries and how they work is how you decide what to expect as you move forward. You will also learn the importance of having a criminal defense lawyer by your side even if you are not yet facing criminal charges. What you uncover in this guide arms you with the required information to make the right choice for your situation.
Grand Jury Overview
A grand jury consists of between 12 and 24 people who listen to cases and decide if enough evidence exists to hold a trial. During a grand jury, the prosecutor brings evidence and argues why the court should place the defendant on trial before a judge and jury.
While a standard jury must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, a grand jury only has to be more sure than not that a crime took place. A grand jury returns a true bill when they believe the defendant more likely than not committed the crime, and they return a no bill when they don’t. If the grand jury returns a true bill, the prosecutor has the green light to move to trial.
Preliminary Hearing Versus a Grand Jury
At a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor and the defendant go in front of a judge and discuss the facts of the case. The prosecutor still brings evidence and witnesses, but the defense can contest points and make objections when needed. Most prosecutors try bypassing the preliminary hearing and opt for a grand jury instead because grand juries don’t allow the defendant to be present. Also, no judge is at the grand jury to ensure that the prosecutor follows the rules of evidence.
Understanding Your Rights
This section helps you understand what rights you have when facing a grand jury indictment. As the defendant, you won’t even know about the grand jury unless they issue an inditement. That means you don’t have any right to know about the grand jury or to defend yourself when the prosecution presents their case to the members. The only good news is that a grand jury indictment does not mean you are convicted of a crime; it means you are going to face a trial.
Deciding What You Must Do Next
Knowing what to do when facing criminal charges is vital if you would like any hope of safeguarding your future. The most important thing is not to speak with anyone about your case and to enlist a defense attorney to stand in your corner and guide you in the right direction.
The Importance of Having a Lawyer on Your Side
If you have never faced criminal charges before, you might be shocked to learn that the prosecution will ignore your rights if you let them. They will try getting you to accept an unfair plea deal or surrender your rights, but you don’t have to fall into that trap if you enlist a caring and skilled criminal defense lawyer.
Your lawyer will uphold your rights and give you the best results possible. Having a lawyer on your side is the only smart way to move forward if you care about your freedom and future. Experienced defense attorneys know how the game is played and will look for mistakes and holes in the prosecutor’s case, improving your odds of getting a fair outcome.
Prosecutors prefer grand juries because grand juries allow them to ignore the rules of evidence and present cases without the person in question having the chance to contest it. The majority of cases that go to a grand jury end with an indictment, but that does not mean you will end up behind bars.
Speak with an experienced attorney to learn about your rights and what you can do to decrease your odds of spending time behind bars. Rather than waiting until another time, reach out to a lawyer the first chance you get so that you can begin building a solid defense.