The idea of having to face a grand jury during a criminal investigation can be intimidating to anybody. Not only is your future in question, you probably have no idea how the process of a grand jury works.
If you’re in trouble, the more you know about grand juries the better you’ll be able to participate in your own defense strategy. Here are some of the basics you should know.
How do grand jury proceedings unfold?
State prosecutors often use grand juries in deciding whether there’s enough evidence or probable cause to charge a defendant with a crime. Federal grand juries work similarly. It’s not necessary for the panel to reach a consensus for prosecutors to indict a defendant on criminal charges. Holding such panels often serves the role of reassuring prosecutors of the strength of their case.
Grand juries are often held in secrecy and attended only by the prosecutor, judge and jury panel. They happen this way to ensure that any potential witnesses they call will feel comfortable in speaking freely about anything that may have occurred. These proceedings are also held in secrecy to minimize the chances that a suspect finding out that prosecutors are considering filing charges against them.
What happens if you’re indicted?
Prosecutors who have secured a grand jury indictment in a case exude confidence — but an indictment doesn’t equal a conviction. Prosecutors have a much easier time convincing a grand jury that they have a strong case than winning a conviction in court.
Just the same, an indictment generally means that your situation is serious. Make sure that you act quickly to secure legal assistance with your defense.