Understanding the inner workings of the legal system is crucial, especially when it comes to criminal cases. The criminal justice system incorporates various mechanisms, one of which is the grand jury. Understanding this mechanism’s fundamental role and inner workings is essential for anyone involved in or affected by a criminal case. In this article, we will define grand juries and their process, shedding light on their critical role in the criminal justice system.
What is a Grand Jury?
A grand jury is a group of citizens summoned to examine evidence and determine whether there is enough probable cause to indict an individual for a crime. Unlike a trial jury, which decides guilt or innocence, the grand jury’s function is to review the evidence presented by prosecutors and determine if enough evidence is available to proceed with a trial. Grand juries typically consist of 16 to 23 members and meet in secret to ensure the protection of witnesses and the integrity of the investigation.
The Grand Jury Process
The grand jury process begins with the prosecutor presenting evidence, which includes witness testimonies, documents, and physical evidence, to establish probable cause. The jurors gain a comprehensive understanding of the case by listening to the evidence and asking questions. Witnesses may be called to testify before the jury, and their testimonies are often given under oath.
During the grand jury proceedings, the defendant and their attorney are generally not present. The process is focused on determining if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial rather than establishing guilt or innocence. However, the defendant’s attorney can be present outside the grand jury room and, in some cases, may be allowed to provide limited information or arguments to the jury.
The Role of the Grand Jury
The grand jury acts as a safeguard against unwarranted criminal prosecution by ensuring that there is sufficient evidence before a trial begins. It serves as a check on the power of the prosecution, as the grand jurors independently assess the evidence presented and decide whether it warrants formal charges. The grand jury’s decisions are made by a majority vote, and if they determine there is enough evidence, they issue an indictment or a “true bill.” On the other hand, if they find insufficient evidence, they issue a “no bill,” which means the case does not proceed to trial.
Professional Criminal Defense Attorneys in Tucson
As an integral part of the criminal justice system, understanding how a grand jury works is essential for anyone involved in a criminal case. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges and require experienced legal representation, Grabb & Durando is here to help. Our dedicated team of attorneys specializes in criminal defense and will provide you with the guidance and advocacy you need throughout the legal process.