What Grand Juries Do

Posted on: January 5, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
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Orange County criminal defense lawyerAfter a grand jury announced in November that it would not indict a Missouri police officer in the shooting of a young man named Michael Brown, many asked, “What exactly is a grand jury?” A grand jury is a group of people who can indict you for a crime – that’s the important thing to know. If a prosecutor takes your criminal case to a grand jury in southern California, you’ll very much require the advice and services of an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer.

Because their proceedings are conducted confidentially, grand juries have become a somewhat enigmatic part of the U.S. legal system. A grand jury is convened by a prosecutor to help the prosecutor decide if charges should be filed in a specific criminal case. Grand jurors are free to scrutinize almost any evidence and to examine almost anyone as a witness. Grand jury hearings are conducted behind closed doors; the identities of witnesses are kept secret to encourage them to speak freely. Attorneys may not accompany witnesses into the hearing room, and grand jury proceedings do not allow defense arguments or rebuttals. At its most basic, a grand jury really isn’t a public proceeding at all; it’s an investigative tool – nothing more – used by prosecutors to help them make decisions to charge or not to charge individuals with specific crimes.

Although a prosecutor will seriously consider a grand jury’s decision – and will in most cases agree with it – a grand jury’s conclusion is not binding; the prosecutor may still file a criminal charge. Whether or not your case goes before a grand jury, if you’re charged any felony or misdemeanor drug, sex, theft, or DUI crime in Orange County or elsewhere in southern California, speak at once with an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer for the legal advice and defense representation that you are very much going to require.