Are you or someone you know undergoing a potential grand jury proceeding or facing an indictment? Need help understanding what it all means? This blog will go through the different terms and procedures that most often occur in the indictment and grand jury process. Grand juries are very laid back as compared to typical pre-trial court settings. Most times there is not a judge or defense attorney present and it is just the prosecutor and the members of the grand jury. Additionally, the accused person is not present and neither are their counsel.
What happens at a Grand Jury Proceeding?
Grand jury proceedings are typically very different from any standard pre-trial hearing in that they are typically very one-sided. The players of the grand jury typically include the prosecutor, 16 to 23 members of the grand jury, and any witness the prosecutor puts forth. The prosecutor starts by presenting their case and asking witnesses questions about the alleged criminal act. The grand jurors may also ask questions back to the prosecutor in a much more informal setting. Additionally, the process of presenting the information to the grand jury is less formal with the typical rules of evidence and cross-examination not applying. For example, the prosecutor can present information obtained by unconstitutional searches, illegal police investigation, and other evidence that would be otherwise inadmissible if the case proceeded to trial. Also, the prosecutor is not required to provide all the information they know about the case and can stick to just the incriminating evidence while leaving out evidence that could help show the accused person is innocent. However, even though the prosecutor can use whatever evidence they see fit in a grand jury proceeding, any and all evidence provided, and all grand jury members ae not allowed to be used in the actual trial unless lawfully admitted.
What is an indictment?
An indictment does not mean that a person is guilty of any crime. A grand jury indictment is simply a means of charging someone with a crime. An indictment by a grand jury only means that probable cause has been found. An indictment allows the case to proceed to trial where the indicted person is presumed innocent. Grand juries do not need a unanimous decision from all members to indict, but it does need a majority in agreement for an indictment. Even if a prosecutor is unable to get an indictment, they may still bring the accused person to trial if they think they have a strong enough case. The grand jury proceedings are often used by prosecutors to weigh their case against mock jurors and see how strong their case really is.
Once indicted, it will then be a trial judge or jury who will decide whether or not to official convict and sentence the accused person. The decision of guilt or innocence is made only after all of the evidence has been lawfully admitted and both the prosecutor and defense has given their theory of the case and it is determined that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you or a loved one is involved in a grand jury proceeding, it is important to consult the help of an experienced criminal attorney to go over your options and help further explain the process. Contact Banks & Brower today for a free consultation of your case. We are available 24/7/365 at email@example.com or 317-870-0019. We stand ready to assist you at a moment’s notice.