Felony charges can cause extensive damage to your life. While the threat of conviction can leave you fearful of incarceration, the ripple effects of mere allegations of wrongdoing can have a ripple affect across your life. Damage to your reputation may leave you feeling isolated, you might lose your driver’s or professional license, and you may find it difficult to secure employment or housing.
That’s why it’s critically important that you know how to defend yourself from the outset of any criminal investigation into your conduct. This includes knowing how to navigate the grand jury process.
What is a grand jury?
A grand jury is group of individuals who hear evidence presented by the prosecutor and render a determination as to whether a felony indictment is proper. The grand jury is not tasked with determining innocence or guilt, but rather they are asked to decide whether the evidence is sufficient to bring formal charges against the accused individual and have a trial on the matter.
The grand jury process unfolds behind closed doors, meaning that the evidence that’s presented is kept confidential and away from the public. This is supposed to help ensure that an accused individual receives a fair trial once his or her case gets to that point.
What happens once a grand jury is convened?
In short, the prosecutor presents his or her side of the case. Witnesses may come in to give statements, and documents and other physical evidence may be presented. Jurors are allowed to ask questions about the evidence presented, and they might even request to see other evidence. Keep in mind, too, that there’s not a lot of judicial oversight in these proceedings, so it really is the prosecutor running the show.
What can you do to protect your interests?
Obviously, if your case is going before a grand jury, then you want to try to do everything you can to prevent the jury from finding that there’s sufficient evidence to charge you with the alleged crime. And you may have your opportunity to make a statement to the grand jury. In fact, the prosecutor may even require you to testify in front of the grand jury.
The problem is that you likely won’t be allowed to have an attorney with you inside the grand jury room where the evidence is presented unless the prosecutor allows your attorney to be present. But you can have an attorney with you throughout the process, and he or she may even be able to be at the courthouse with you during the grand jury presentation so that you can ask to speak to him or her before answering any questions.
With that in mind, preparation is key when a grand jury has been convened. You need to anticipate the evidence that the prosecution has against you and how you’re going to frame your position when you present your side of the story to the jury.
Law firms like ours are here to help
We know the thought of going before a grand jury can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking. But you can work closely with an attorney of your choosing to ensure that you’re as fully prepared as possible. And, even if the grand jury finds that there’s sufficient evidence to bring charges, you still have the opportunity to build and present your defense. That’s why now is the time to speak with a criminal defense advocate who you feel is right for you. Only then can you rest assured that your case is in good hands and that you’ll have the aggressive advocacy that you deserve.