People who are being investigated for criminal charges sometimes learn that their case is going to go before a grand jury. This means that a group of people will review the evidence in the case to determine whether the prosecution has a reasonably sufficient case against them or not.
If the grand jury determines that the prosecution has a good case that’s likely to be successful before the jury, it will issue an indictment. The jurors don’t have to all agree to indict. Instead, the grand jury operates on a majority basis.
What happens if the grand jury indicts someone?
The decision of the grand jury isn’t binding, but an indictment usually means the person is going to be charged. The prosecutor can follow the grand jury’s recommendation, but they aren’t obligated. In the simplest terms, a grand jury hearing is a test run for a trial. If the grand jury issues an indictment, the prosecutor may not charge the person. Conversely, the person could also be charged with a crime even if there isn’t an indictment.
What goes on during a grand jury hearing is confidential. It’s much less formal than a trial, so anyone who’s called to testify can feel free to provide information. Jurors can also ask questions about the matters discussed during the grand jury proceedings.
Do you suspect that you will be indicted?
Anyone who learns that their case is going before the grand jury or who has received an indictment should evaluate their defense strategy options. It’s best to do this early so you have time to finetune the points you plan to make in an effort to poke holes in the prosecution’s case during trial.