The Vital Roles of Grand Juries

A King County domestic violence lawyer wants you to know how grand juries operate, and how this may affect your particular case. A grand jury has two main functions, depending on the jurisdiction and type of case. These main duties are (1) investigating and (2) charging.

King County domestic violence lawyer

The investigating grand jury

One role of a grand jury is to investigate a case using its subpoena power to access documents and records. The jury may also call witnesses, offer immunity to witnesses and cooperators, and work through agents to gain testimony or investigate details.

An investigation may take months or years to complete information gathering in a complex case. More than one panel may work on a long investigation.

The charging grand jury

A charging grand jury is presented with a case after the defendant has been arrested on a preliminary charging criminal complaint. The subject will be released if not formally charged. In this case the jury will hear some but not detailed testimony, often from just the police or prosecutor’s side. Based on a first brief review of the facts, the jury typically approves the prosecutor’s charges. This not only results in a criminal indictment but in effect deprives the defendant of a preliminary hearing.

Before the jury votes on a case, the prosecutor presents legal elements and charges and summarizes testimony and evidence to support those charges. But the jury does not draft the indictment, it only votes up or down on the version of the indictment presented by the prosecutor. The vote does not need to be unanimous; it requires only a majority of jurors. A King County domestic violence lawyer will explain that the defense will not be told what the vote count was.

With so much of the process taking place behind closed doors, it’s important to have a top King County domestic violence lawyer on your side. Call South King County criminal attorney today at (253) 709-5050.

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