NYC Grand Jury Investigations Attorney
The Constitution states that no U.S. citizen can be put on trial without having probable cause to believe that he or she is guilty. In some cases, this is achieved by the holding of a preliminary hearing where a judge determines whether probable cause exists to file charges against someone. It is also possible, however, to use a grand jury for this purpose. Both New York and federal courts use grand juries during criminal prosecution, so if you have been accused of committing a crime in New York, it is important to speak with a NYC grand jury investigations attorney who has experience with grand juries and can give you the best possible chance of getting your case dismissed.
What is a Grand Jury?
A grand jury is a group of citizens who are called to listen to evidence presented by a state prosecutor and then tasked with determining whether, based on that evidence, probable cause exists to indict, or bring charges against a defendant. Grand juries can and do consider a wide range of criminal activity, including everything from drug offenses and theft to sexual abuse and homicide. However, district attorneys in New York are actually required to refer evidence to grand juries when:
- A defendant is being accused of a felony, unless he or she waives the right to be prosecuted via indictment, or by a grand jury; and
- A defendant is being accused of a misdemeanor offense and a superior court of the county has ordered prosecution through indictment.
How Are Grand Juries Chosen?
In New York, no more than 23 people can sit on a grand jury, although the minimum number is twelve. Grand jurors are chosen at random from the same group of individuals who qualify for regular juries in the county, which means anyone who:
- Is a U.S. citizen;
- Is over the age of 18 years old;
- Has not been convicted of a felony;
- Is able to understand and communicate in English; and
- Is a resident of the county.
Grand jury proceedings are conducted privately and jurors are prohibited from speaking about those proceedings to anyone outside of the courtroom. The only exception to this rule is when a court issues a written order stating that grand jury information can be revealed. However, this will only happen if a judge decides that the public’s need to know about the proceedings outweighs the need for confidentiality.
What Happens During Grand Jury Proceedings?
When a grand jury has been called, the prosecutor for the case will present evidence regarding the alleged crime. Witnesses will usually be asked to testify, physical evidence will be shown to the jury, and a general outline of the case will be presented. Once this evidence has been heard, the grand jury will vote on whether they believe probable cause exists to charge the person with a crime. At least twelve jurors must concur on this issue before it can issue an indictment charging the individual with a criminal offense.
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Grand jury proceedings play a critical role in criminal prosecution in New York. To ensure that you understand your own rights during this process, please contact dedicated criminal defense attorney Mark I. Cohen, Esq. by calling 212-732-0002 or by completing one of our brief online contact forms.