Grand juries differ from trial juries. The members of a trial jury are charged with the task of deciding the guilt or innocence of a defendant who has been accused of committing a crime. A grand jury’s job is to determine if there is enough evidence to prove that a crime has indeed been committed and that the evidence points directly to a specific suspect. If the charges can be substantiated by a grand jury investigation, an indictment will be handed down, and the case will go to trial.
The investigation begins with the jury selection. The court appoints jurors chosen randomly from a petit jury pool. Each person whose name is chosen will be asked to fill out a questionnaire to confirm their eligibility to serve. Once the jury has been established the proceedings will get under way.
The prosecuting attorney pretty much runs the show from here on out. It is his job to convince the jury that his case is strong enough to produce an indictment. In order to do that he will produce witnesses to corroborate his findings. Members of the jury are allowed to ask their own questions of the witnesses who are testifying.
If you have become the subject of a grand jury investigation you should contact a defense attorney asap. Even though he will only be able to confer with you during the actual proceedings and not be allowed to speak directly to the jury, he can present your side of the story to the prosecutor and provide facts that may shoot holes in the supposed evidence against you.
A trial jury is an open proceeding and whether or not a defendant is convicted of a crime he is exposed to the press and can be condemned by public opinion. Secrecy is the one aspect of a grand jury investigation that provides some protection for the accused. Since the details and testimonies are kept under wraps a defendant who is exonerated by a grand jury will escape suffering any damage to their good name.
Morley Swingle and Jim Anest, both of the Parker Lawyers firm, have had first hand experience in dealing with grand juries. Call them for consultation @ 303-841-9525.