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What Happens in a Federal Grand Jury?

Should you find yourself under investigation for a federal criminal offense, you’re probably seeking out further information about your situation. Learning more about the process is a wise step to take, because it will help you make choices that may have a life-long impact. In this article, you will learn more about Federal Grand Jury proceedings. 

What Is a Grand Jury?

In the event that you’re facing federal charges, you may be called to appear before a grand jury. A grand jury is made up of anywhere from 16-23 members who are called to serve, similar to a regular court trial jury. The grand jury works in collaboration with the prosecutor, and is responsible for determining whether to bring criminal charges against a potential defendant. If a grand jury is used in your matter, it will be one of the earliest procedures in your criminal trial. If you’ve already been before a grand jury and were charged with a crime, get in touch with an experienced defense attorney right away.  The more time your lawyer has to develop your defense strategy, the better chance you have at reaching the favorable outcome you desire.

Grand Jury Proceedings

Unlike in a trial, grand jury proceedings generally do not involve lawyers and are kept in strict secrecy. This secrecy feature was built into the grand jury proceeding in order to protect the potential defendant’s reputation, just in case the jury decided not to indict him or her. This secrecy also gives witnesses the freedom to speak openly without any fear of potential repercussions. The grand jury will begin with the prosecutor explaining the legislation to the jury members. Next, they will collaborate to gather evidence and hear testimony. While the process is relatively casual, there are some strict guidelines that evidence submitted must conform to. After the grand jury has examined the evidence, they need to arrive at a decision about whether or not to indict the accused. The decision does not have to be unanimous.  A majority of 2/3 or 3/4 is required. If the jury determines that there is not enough evidence to indict, the prosecutor may still decide to bring the potential defendant to trial. He or she will have to an uphill clime to convince the judge that there is sufficient evidence, and if he or she is successful, the matter will go ahead into a formal trial.

Is your case being heard by a grand jury?  If so, then you should get a skilled federal defense attorney right away so that he or she can begin working on ways to protect you from an unjust decision and fight to keep you out of court. 

If you’re entrenched in a federal criminal case, it’s never too soon to contact an attorney. You’re facing serious penalties, such as large fines and jail time, which could have a profoundly negative impact on your future. With so much at stake, you want the defense possible. 

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