West Palm Beach Grand Jury Proceedings Lawyer
Grand juries can exist both at the state level and at the federal level. The purpose of a grand jury proceeding is to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to charge someone with a crime. If the grand jury does not indict an individual, there can be no trial and the individual remains free. If the grand jury does indict the accused individual, the case must still go to trial. It is critical to set up a strong defense in the grand jury proceedings because it could prevent the case from ever going to trial. An experienced West Palm Beach grand jury proceedings lawyer can help guide you through the protocol of a grand jury and ensure your rights are being protected throughout the proceedings.
Florida Grand Jury Proceedings
In Florida a grand jury is only required when a person is accused of a capital offense, meaning they could face the death penalty. They are also frequently used when a public official has been accused of a crime. According to the Florida Bar, a state grand jury consists of anywhere between 15 and 21 people and 12 must be in agreement to indict an individual. Florida Statute 905.24 states that grand jury proceedings are secret. The purpose of the secrecy is to protect witnesses so that they feel safe testifying and also to protect the individual accused in case they are not indicted.
Federal Grand Jury Proceedings
The federal grand jury proceedings are similar to those at the state level. The number of jurors can be anywhere from 16 to 23 members. There must still be 12 individuals who vote in favor of formally charging the accused with the crime for there to be an indictment. All federal felony charges must have a grand jury proceeding prior to a proper trial. Some common federal felonies include drug crimes, theft crimes, violent crimes, weapons violations, and fraud. Federal grand juries also abide by strict secrecy laws.
Who Attends a Grand Jury Proceeding?
Defense attorneys can meet with the prosecutor and negotiate terms outside of the grand jury, but who attends a grand jury proceeding is very specific. The following people are involved:
- Witnesses; and
- A court reporter, who is sworn to secrecy.
There is no judge and no other attorney aside from the prosecutor. Witnesses are interviewed under oath but there is no cross-examination like exists in a trial.
Contact a West Palm Beach Defense Attorney Prior to a Grand Jury Proceeding
Anyone who has been arrested and charged with a Florida capital offense or federal felony will have their case heard by a grand jury, although other cases might see a grand jury too. Seeking experienced legal help prior to the grand jury proceedings can not only help you with your defense, it could help you avoid a trial all together. To learn more about how the West Palm Beach defense attorney William Wallshein can help with your grand jury proceeding, call 561-533-1221 to schedule a free consultation.