A Quick Look at How Grand Juries Work in Indiana:
In previous blogs, we’ve discussed some of the various ways that criminal proceedings may be initiated against a person. Most often a person is facing charges after a charging information, which is signed by the prosecuting attorney, is filed with the court. The other way formal criminal proceedings begin is by an indictment, which is the initiation of charges following a grand jury proceeding. A grand jury is convened to make the decision on whether are not there is sufficient evidence for charges to be filed. This blog will take a deeper look into how a grand jury operates.
The purpose of a grand jury is to hear and examine evidence concerning crimes and to take action with respect to this evidence as provided by law. A grand jury is made up of 6 grand jurors and 1 alternate who are randomly selected from a master list of potential jurors by a supervising judge and may be impaneled in either a circuit court or superior court having criminal jurisdiction. The court shall call the grand jury into session at the request of the prosecuting attorney The court may call them into session without a request from the prosecutor as well. Once convened, a grand jury may not remain in session for more than six (6) months. However, the judge of any court having criminal jurisdiction may upon due cause shown by petition of the prosecuting attorney of the judicial circuit, extend the terms of the members of a grand jury then convened for an additional term of three (3) months or more, as requested by the prosecuting attorney. The terms of the members of any grand jury may be so extended for successive periods of increments of three (3) months or more, to a total length of no more than two (2) years.
After a grand jury has been impaneled, the court that called the grand jury shall appoint one of the grand jurors as foreman and one as clerk. During any absence of the foreman or clerk, the grand jury shall select one themselves to act as foreman or clerk. The clerk shall keep minutes of the grand jury proceedings. The court shall supply a means for recording the evidence presented before the grand jury and all of the other proceedings that occur before the grand jury, except for the deliberations and voting of the grand jury and other discussions when the members of the grand jury are the only persons present in the grand jury room. The evidence and proceedings shall be recorded in the same manner as evidence and proceedings are recorded in the court that impaneled the grand jury.
Grand jury proceedings are to remain secret and therefore no person who was present during a grand jury proceeding may disclose, except in the lawful discharge of his duties; upon written order of the court that impaneled the grand jury; or upon written order of the court trying the case on indictment presented by the grand jury, the nature or substance of any grand jury testimony or any other matter information obtained from attending the grand jury proceeding. Except when required to do so by law, a person who has been present at a grand jury proceeding and who knowingly or intentionally discloses: (1) any evidence or testimony given or produced; (2) what a grand juror said; or (3) the vote of any grand juror to any other person, except to a person who was also present or entitled to be present at that proceeding or to the prosecuting attorney or his representative, commits unauthorized disclosure of grand jury information, a Class B misdemeanor pursuant to IC 35-34-2-10.
If a member of the grand jury has reason to believe that an offense has been committed which is triable in the county, the member may report this information to fellow jurors, who may then investigate the alleged offense. The grand jury or the prosecuting attorney may require the clerk to issue a subpoena requiring a witness or target to provide evidence or testimony. A “target” means a person who has been charged by information for an offense the grand jury is investigating, or who is a subject of the grand jury investigation. For a witness, the subpoena must state the general nature of the grand jury inquiry. However, if the subpoena is issued to a target, the subpoena shall also contain a statement informing the target that: (1) he/she is a subject of the grand jury investigation; (2) he/she has the right to consult with an attorney and to be assisted by an attorney; and (3) if he/she cannot afford an attorney, the court impaneling the grand jury will appoint one for him/her, upon request.
The prosecuting attorney or grand jury may call as a witness in a grand jury proceeding any person they believe possesses relevant information or knowledge. In turn, any witness may file a motion to quash a grand jury subpoena directed to that witness. The motion must include a statement of the facts and grounds in support of the objection to the subpoena. Upon a receiving a motion to quash, the court shall: (1) promptly conduct a hearing on the motion; and (2) at the conclusion of the hearing, enter findings in support of its ruling. If the individual receiving a subpoena is the target, they may move to quash a subpoena based upon their privilege against self-incrimination. Upon such motion by the target, the court shall grant the motion, unless the prosecuting attorney makes a written request that the target be granted use immunity. Upon request by the prosecuting attorney, the court shall grant use immunity to the target and order him to comply with the subpoena. Use immunity means that the court shall instruct the witness by written order or in open court that any evidence the witness gives before the grand jury, or evidence derived from that evidence, may not be used in any criminal prosecution against that witness, unless the evidence is volunteered by the witness or is not responsive to a question by the grand jury or the prosecutor. The court shall then instruct the witness that the witness must answer the questions asked and produce the items requested.
A target of a grand jury investigation shall be given the right to testify before the grand jury, provided he signs a waiver of immunity. The prosecuting attorney shall notify a target of his opportunity to testify unless: (1) notification may result in flight or endanger other persons or obstruct justice; or (2) the prosecutor is unable, with reasonable diligence, to notify him.
The esoteric nature of grand jury proceedings make it complicated from a defense standpoint because the law requires that a target’s attorney (1) must take an oath of secrecy administered by the foreman; (2) may not address the grand jury or the prosecutor, makes objections, or question any person, or otherwise participate in the proceeding without first obtaining consent of the prosecutor and the foreman; and (3) may advise the client so long as the conversation is not overheard by any member of the grand jury.
If you or anyone you know are facing criminal charges, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC. We provide representation for anyone accused of a crime in Indiana regardless of guilt or innocence. Whether you are wrongfully accused and/or fear that you may be culpable, we are here to help you. We are available 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317.870.0019.