If you have recently been accused of a crime in New York, it’s important to realize how the grand jury process works. The grand jury has an important place in the criminal justice system. The primary purpose of the grand jury is to determine whether or not there exists probable cause to indict a person on serious criminal charges. The New York state constitution, as well as the US constitution, recognize the critical role played by a grand jury in determining whether or not there is enough evidence to file criminal charges. Grand jurors serve the purpose of bringing the perspective of typical citizens and peers into the criminal justice system.
The public defendants, judges, and defense lawyers are not present in a grand jury proceeding. Possible defendants who learn about a probe can request to appear as witnesses and an attorney on behalf of the defendant can only attend the testimony of the defendant and is not able to ask questions, raise objections, or address the grand jury. A grand jury does not serve in the role of determining the ultimate innocence or guilt of any defendant and rather operates in secrecy to determine whether or not enough evidence is present to charge the person with a crime.
Prosecutors frequently succeed in persuading grand juries to hand out indictments because prosecutors have extensive experience in presenting evidence and explaining the law to grand jury members. Consulting with your criminal defense attorney will give you the best possible chance to understand all of the issues associated with the grand jury and what you can expect if you have been accused of a crime.
If you wait too long to hire a lawyer who can walk you through the grand jury process and prepare you for what to anticipate, it will be much harder for you to figure out how to move forward with your life.