Boston Criminal Defense Attorney, Kevin J. Mahoney, Explains the Two Types of Grand Jury Proceedings
Grand juries review evidence against a suspect and determine whether there is probable cause for an indictment. If you are called to testify before a grand jury, or are the target or subject of a grand jury investigation, a Boston criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights.
Grand juries function in two main ways:
Charging Grand Juries
The work of a charging grand jury begins after a suspect has been arrested on a preliminary charging document, and the deadline by which he must have a preliminary hearing is rapidly approaching. The grand jury’s main functions are to:
- Hear general testimony, typically hearsay from the arresting officer;
- Consent to the prosecutor’s decision to charge the defendant; and
- Take away the defendant’s right to a preliminary hearing.
Investigating Grand Juries
Investigating grand juries deal with more complicated and/or serious matters. Their investigations may take several months, or even years, during which time the prosecutor will:
- Subpoena documents;
- Subpoena less important witnesses, or offer their testimony through other means;
- Obtain testimony from witnesses with immunity or those who are willing to cooperate;
- Ascertain whether previously difficult witnesses are now willing to testify honestly;
- Conclude with an agent who provides an overview of the investigation and addresses details that may have been overlooked.
After the presentation of the evidence is completed, the prosecutor explains the legal elements of the crimes charged and how the evidence fulfills each element. The jurors may then ask the prosecutor questions about the evidence. Finally, the grand jury votes on whether there is probable cause to charge the defendant. It simply votes yes or no on the indictment offered by the prosecutor. A majority vote is sufficient to return an indictment.
Grand jury proceedings are not to be taken lightly. If you or someone you love is under investigation or is called to testify, contact the experienced Boston criminal defense attorneys at the Mahoney Criminal Defense Group, by calling (617) 492-0055.
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