How a Grand Jury Functions
Posted on Friday, December 18th, 2015 at 11:37 pm
Our Nashville criminal lawyer will help you to understand grand juries and why criminal prosecutors use them as an integral part of their investigations.
What A Grand Jury Does in a Criminal Case
With the grand jury, the jurors will be selected from the same gallery as normal trial jurors. The defense attorneys have no say in issuing a challenge or in the selection process. In general, the grand jury will have between 16 and 23 members who will sit for 18 months. They will only have to sit on the grand jury for a few days out of every month. Your Nashville criminal lawyer will tell you that the grand jury will hear evidence in a number of investigations that are in progress simultaneously. The grand jury can investigate anything even if it is a flimsy rumor or suspicion. Reasonable suspicion nor probable cause are needed for a grand jury to investigate a case. The grand jury is not an impartial body. They will only hear evidence that the prosecutor decides to give them. Much of that information might be hearsay coming from interviews that law enforcement has put in summary form. The prosecution instructs jurors on the law. The prosecutors will frequently tell the grand jury that it is not their responsibility to decide on guilt or innocence. Their job is to decide whether there is probable cause for an indictment. Members of the grand jury will learn that the day will move along rapidly if they do not ask a large number of questions and vote for an indictment when they are asked to do so. The grand jury is not apt to be charmed or vulnerable to persuasive techniques. As a defendant, you will want to avoid testifying. If you do testify, you should try to get in and out as fast as you can while saying a minimal amount.
The Grand Jury Proceedings Are Held in Secret
In the grand jury room, the only people there will be the prosecutor, a court reporter and the witness. Certain jurisdictions will let a witness have an attorney present. Others will have the attorney stay outside the room with the witness allowed to leave to have a consultation with the lawyer. Apart from the witnesses, everyone present in the grand jury room is told not to share information about the proceedings. That does not mean there will not be leaks. In many courthouses, the grand jury room is located where it is easy for the media or targets of the investigation to see who enters and exits and try to ask questions of those who look to be witnesses.
Call an Experienced Nashville Criminal Lawyer
If you have questions about the grand jury, call (615) 403-2971 to speak to Nashville criminal lawyer Brent Horst Attorney at Law.