Grand jury indictments, explained
When it comes to criminal cases and trying individuals for their alleged offenses, a grand jury indictment is a crucial component of the legal process. A grand jury indictment is a legal document that formally charges an individual with a crime, based on the evidence presented by a prosecutor. These indictments are taken seriously and can have serious consequences on the accused.
In this article, we will dive into the details of grand jury indictments, explain the process of obtaining one, and discuss their significance in the legal system.
What is a grand jury indictment?
A grand jury indictment is a legal document that charges an individual with committing a crime, based on the evidence presented by a prosecutor. In order to obtain a grand jury indictment, the prosecutor must present evidence to a group of citizens who comprise the grand jury. The grand jury then decides whether there is enough evidence to charge the individual with a crime.
Grand juries are typically made up of 16-23 individuals, who are chosen from the community and must be US citizens. They are different from trial juries, in that they do not determine whether an individual is guilty or not guilty, but rather, whether there is enough evidence to charge the individual with a crime. Grand juries are a crucial component of the legal system, as they protect individuals from potentially unfounded charges by ensuring that there is enough evidence to move forward with a case.
How is a grand jury indictment obtained?
In order to obtain a grand jury indictment, a prosecutor must bring evidence before the grand jury that they believe is sufficient to charge an individual with a crime. The evidence presented can include witness testimony, physical evidence, and any other evidence that the prosecutor believes is relevant to the case. The prosecutor can also present any other relevant information that they believe will support their case.
The grand jury then reviews the evidence presented and decides whether there is enough evidence to charge the individual with a crime. If the grand jury believes that there is enough evidence, they will issue an indictment. If the grand jury decides that there is not enough evidence, they will not issue an indictment, and the case will not move forward.
What are the consequences of a grand jury indictment?
A grand jury indictment is a serious matter, and it can have significant consequences for the accused. If an individual is indicted by a grand jury, they will then face trial in front of a regular trial jury, where they will be either found guilty or not guilty. If they are found guilty, they will face the penalties associated with the crime they were charged with.
If an individual is indicted, but ultimately found not guilty, the indictment will still appear on their record. This can have negative consequences, as it can make it difficult for the individual to obtain certain types of employment or get approved for loans. In some cases, an individual may be able to have the indictment expunged from their record, but this is a difficult and time-consuming process.
What are some examples of cases where grand jury indictments have been used?
Grand jury indictments are used in a wide variety of criminal cases, from relatively minor offenses to more serious crimes. Some recent examples include:
– In 2020, a grand jury in Kentucky indicted one police officer in the killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by police while she was asleep in her home.
– In 2019, a grand jury in New York indicted billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Epstein later died by suicide in jail while awaiting trial.
– In 2018, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities were indicted by a grand jury for their alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
Grand jury indictments are an essential component of the legal system, as they ensure that individuals are not unfairly charged with crimes without sufficient evidence. Prosecutors must present evidence to the grand jury, who then decides whether there is enough evidence to issue an indictment. If an individual is indicted, they will face trial in front of a regular trial jury, where they will either be found guilty or not guilty. Grand jury indictments can have serious consequences for the accused, and they are used in both minor and major criminal cases.