Our criminal justice process includes two types of juries. A petit jury can convict a person of a crime and is convened when a crime goes to trial.
A grand jury convenes earlier in the process. When someone is charged with a felony in Texas, they must be indicted by a grand jury unless they waive their rights.
Both juries are made up of peers who meet the same eligibility criteria and are selected the same way as trial juries.
What is an indictment?
An indictment simply means that the grand jury agrees that the District Attorney has sufficient evidence to convict.
Grand juries almost always indict because they only get to hear the prosecutor’s side of the story in most cases, and they are only being asked to decide if the prosecutor has probable cause to proceed, not whether the defendant is guilty.
Grand Jury proceedings are secret in Texas. Anyone who violates secrecy can face a fine of $500 and 30 days in jail.
What is a grand jury packet in Texas?
If the grand jury indicts, they “return a true bill.” If the grand jury returns no bill, the criminal case dies. In Texas, a defense attorney has the ability to submit a Grand Jury packet, information that can convince jurors to return “no bill.” It’s not strategic to offer a Grand Jury packet in every case.
Submitting a Grand Jury packet doesn’t allow the defense attorney to enter the proceedings, only to submit documents, evidence, and letters. The reason it’s not strategic to use in every case is because it can reveal the defense attorney’s thought process. We use it only when the case is so strong that we believe we can end it immediately by attacking the DA’s case at the grand jury stage.
What should you do if you receive a subpoena to appear before a Grand Jury?
You should get a lawyer. While you might believe you are merely a witness because you have yet to be arrested and charged, you could be the target of an investigation. Plus, information that comes out during a grand jury proceeding can often turn you into the target of an investigation, even if you didn’t start as one.
When the legal system enters your life, it’s time to get help. Turn to the experienced attorneys at Greco-Neyland to schedule a consultation today.
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