I've Been Indicted by a Grand Jury! What is that?
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
If you've found yourself facing a Grand Jury indictment, you likely have questions about what that is, what they do, and what that means for your case.
Let's start at the beginning. Everyone who has been accused of a crime has a Constitutional right to make the court determine, based on the available evidence at the beginning of a case, that a crime was committed, and that the accused person was likely the person that committed it.
This is called a Probable Cause determination and is the first hurdle on the way to a trial.
There are two ways a court can make a Probable Cause determination: a Preliminary Hearing, and a Grand Jury Indictment. The state can opt for allowing a judge to do it at a Preliminary Hearing, or the state can bring in a group of people off the street. That's what a Grand Jury is, and what a Grand Jury does.
A prosecutor assembles a Grand Jury at the beginning of the case and presents testimony (generally police officer testimony) to a group of people who can ask questions about the evidence. Those people then determine whether a crime was committed and whether the accused likely did it. Sounds fair, right?
Here's the kicker. A Grand Jury rarely opts to NOT indict someone. There's an old saying in the legal community: A Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich....
You might be wondering, "Can't I tell the Grand Jury what happened so they choose not to indict me?" The short answer is generally "no." Attorneys have a few tricks available, but these are secret proceedings, done behind closed doors, with few rules.
Once you've been indicted, you will receive a summons to appear at a specific time and place for a Not Guilty Arraignment, where a judge will lay out or reaffirm your release conditions, and set your case schedule. If you've been indicted and have questions about your case or need a consultation, give my office a call. We're here to help.