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What Is a Grand Jury?


When charged with a felony, a case must first be presented to a “grand jury” for a decision on sending the charge to a court, known as indictment. A grand jury consists of nine to twelve people who hear details about the felony case and decide if there is enough evidence (known as probable cause) to continue on with the prosecution. If at least nine grand jurors decide there is enough evidence, the jury foreperson will “INDICT” a case, but if the grand jury decides that there is not enough evidence, then they will issue a “NO BILL,” and there will be on indictment. Since probable cause is a low standard of proof in comparison to the standard necessary to find someone guilty (beyond a reasonable doubt), a vast majority of cases tend to get indicted due to the members of the grand jury believing the arresting officer.

What goes on during a grand jury?

Even though grand jury proceedings are secretive by law, we do have a general idea what goes on. The prosecutor will present the case to the grand jurors by providing them with testimony of and investigating law enforcement officer or the alleged victim and/or documents, recordings, or other matters can be presented for the grand jury’s consideration. At the end, the prosecutor will recommend to the grand jury that they either indict or no bill the case.

As a defendant, what rights do you have before a grand jury?

Neither a defense counsel nor a defendant have a right to be present at a grand jury hearing; usually only the prosecutor is present. But some district attorney (prosecutor) offices will allow the defense counsel to provide a packet to the grand jury packet. That is why you hire an attorney before the grand jury, to exercise your only way to be heard!

What is a grand jury packet?

This is something that an experienced and aggressive defense counsel can create and submit to help a client. This packet can be used to end a case by convincing the grand jury not to indict. Since the standard of proof in a grand jury is probable cause, any deficiencies should be pointed out to the grand jurors.

There are also some cases; domestic violence allegations and charges involving the presence of a firearm in carry-on luggage at an airport screening site, that make for good cases for evidence showing extenuating circumstances. What is included in the package will depend on the charge. It can vary from letters of family or friends attesting to your good moral character, any corrective measures taken (classes/treatments), legal defenses, polygraphs, and your side of the story.

Not all cases warrant a packet so this is something you and your attorney should discuss. A grand jury packet is that it can expose your defense to the prosecutor. An experienced defense counsel can help you weigh and manage those risks.

Contact the lawyers at the Law Office of Patrick J McLain, PLLC to get a grand jury packet started for you! We can help defend you against various crimes and will fight vigorously to protect your legal rights. You can call us 24/7 by calling (214) 238-9392 or visit our law office at 900 Jackson Street, Suite 635 Dallas, Texas 75202. Don’t wait before it is too late!

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