When you hear about grand juries, it can be a bit intimidating. The term itself sounds serious, as you wonder how a grand jury may impact the results of a case. Understanding the difference between grand juries and trial juries, as well as what a grand jury is allowed to do that can influence what charges are levied against a person and if a trial can move forward, will allow you to prepare yourself if you have been given a subpoena or indictment.
Nevada Grand Juries for High Profile Felony Cases
The majority of criminal cases never see the inside of a grand jury. A grand jury is normally convened for serious felony allegations or for high-profile criminal charges. The purpose of a grand jury is not to try the case within its halls. It evaluates whether the state has enough evidence and cause to press charges and to proceed with the case.
When a Nevada grand jury is called, the proceedings always happen at the beginning of the case. In addition, the grand jury does not allow for the defense attorney to be present during this stage. The proceedings are held in secret up until it is decided for the case to move on for trial or to be dismissed.
What Are Subpoenas?
Subpoenas are written requests issued by the grand jury to obtain evidence or witness testimony in regards to the criminal charges. The subpoena will be subscribed by a deputy, a foreman, or someone acting as a temporary foreman to gather documents in the form of reports, books, papers or other documents that need to be presented to the grand jury.
If a witness is subpoenaed, the grand jury must inform the person orally of the nature of their inquiry and about the general nature of the investigation. The grand jury’s statement must also be included in the transcript during the proceedings. A witness who has already been subpoena may be called in again for questioning in the justice’s court for the same case within 60 days, and that time frame may be extended if there has been established a good cause for the extension.
What Is an Indictment?
As the grand jury is gathering evidence and hearing witness testimony, the prosecutor may encourage the court to allow them to proceed with the criminal case. If the grand jury agrees that there is sufficient evidence to charge the person with the crime, the prosecutor will present an indictment to the grand jury.
The indictment will be a formal accusation of the crime and what charges will be brought up against the person as there is enough probable cause to proceed. When an indictment is submitted, an arraignment date can then be set so the defendant appears in court to answer the prosecutor’s charges.
Indictments are different from an “information” sworn statement. While an indictment goes through a grand jury after subpoenas, an information statement can be submitted through the court immediately after the police perform their investigation and submit any findings to the prosecutor who then determines what criminal charges will be placed onto the person. Once an information statement is submitted, an arraignment date in Nevada is set.
What to Understand About Subpoenas and Indictments
You should understand that the grand jury isn’t there to decide on your criminal case on whether you are guilty. It is used as a “checks and balances” in the state’s power. A grand jury is designed to prevent state district attorneys or a US federal attorney from charging people with crimes when there is not sufficient evidence to bring charges against them.
When you are summoned to a grand jury due to a subpoena, always keep in mind that you may not be there to testify against another person, company or organization. The indictment may in actuality be against you for some type of criminal charge. You are expected to give truthful answers during your testimony, which may be later used against you during the criminal trial. This problem can lead you to incriminate yourself with no way of fighting against your case.
It is always in your best interests to have a criminal defense attorney providing you legal advice and representation. They can prevent you from incriminating yourself in front of the grand jury. While the attorney will not be able to be in the grand jury room with you during the testimony, they can accompany you to court and stand in the hallway to give you support. You can request to speak with your lawyer when asked questions so as to not answer in a way where you are giving up your rights.
Speak with the reliable and dedicated criminal defense attorney Gabriel Grasso. We can provide a confidential and free case review when you are subpoenaed to appear before a Nevada grand jury. We can protect your rights so that you do not say anything that can later be used against you in a pending court case.