Originally, the criminal justice system developed grand juries to screen criminal cases and cast off those unfit for prosecution (thus protecting citizens from unfair persecution), but in recent years prosecutors have begun utilizing grand juries precisely for their investigatory power. So what should you and your Jacksonville misdemeanor lawyer expect from a grand jury proceeding?
Forming a Grand Jury
- Defense attorneys do not select jurors.
- Grand jurors originate from the same pool as regular jurors.
- Grand juries consist of 16 to 23 members who participate for a few days each month, up to a time period of 18 months.
- Probable cause or reasonable suspicion of a crime do not affect the formation of a grand jury; grand juries can form based upon unsubstantiated suspicions.
- Jurors are not gathered to investigate one specific case, so a grand jury will review multiple cases simultaneously.
Grand Jurors’ Purpose and Duties
- Grand juries ultimately determine whether there is enough probable cause to vote an indictment.
- Jurors do not conclude innocence or guilt.
- The prosecution presents evidence—mostly consisting of police officer interviews—and instructs grand jurors on their responsibilities to the law.
- Grand juries do not often review the prosecution’s evidence; usually, the prosecuting attorney briefly describes subpoenaed documents to jurors.
- Grand jurors usually want to perform their duties as quickly as possible.
- When prompted by the prosecution, juries will often vote to indict.
Testifying in Front of a Grand Jury
- Avoid testifying if possible.
- If you cannot avoid testifying, maintain a professional manner and keep your testimony concise.
- Do not try to persuade or trick a grand jury.
- Heed the advice of your Jacksonville misdemeanor lawyer.
Secrecy of Grand Jury Proceedings
- Only a grand jury, the prosecution, the witness or witnesses, and a court reporter are allowed in the courtroom throughout a grand jury inquiry (depending on geographical location, the witness’ lawyer may be present in the courtroom as well).
- Grand jury cases are secret, and all participants (excluding the witness) are required by law to keep grand jury determinations secret.
- However, reporters and other media officials frequently scout the entrances and exits of the grand jury courtroom in order to uncover information.
- The defense is completely excluded from court transcripts, evidence, and the prosecution’s orders and communication with the grand jury.
At the end of the day, grand juries can be inconsistent and prejudicial, and only the most experienced Jacksonville misdemeanor lawyer can navigate the judicial maze. Contact the Attorneys at Canan Law at (877) 824-9402 today and place your trust in expert hands.