A case will have to go through grand jury proceedings before it can be disputed in criminal court. This proceeding is used to determine whether there is sufficient evidence linking a suspect to a crime. A grand jury is typically reserved for serious felony crimes with harsh sentencing, but misdemeanor cases may also pass through the proceedings.
A grand jury will not end in conviction. Instead, it may end with an indictment if jurors believe there is probable cause a suspect committed an alleged crime. If this is the case, the suspect will be formally charged, and their case will move forward in criminal court.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Garden City
A grand jury is another complicated step in the New York criminal justice process. The outcome of the hearing is critical because it determines whether or not your case will move to the criminal courts. Stephanie Selloni is a dedicated criminal defense attorney who will be by your side through the entire criminal process. She is a trusted legal advocate with over a decade of experience representing clients like you.
Call (516) 972-1212 to schedule a time to speak with Ms. Selloni. She will evaluate the facts of your case and formulate a defense plan that is in your best interest. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni defends clients in areas such as Garden City, Tarrytown and Farmingville.
- What is a Grand Jury?
- What is an Indictment?
- Preliminary Hearing vs. Grand Jury
- Additional Resources
What is a Grand Jury?
Most criminal cases in New York will bypass the preliminary hearing and instead be heard by a grand jury. A grand jury does not involve determining guilt and sentencing a defendant. Instead, a state prosecutor will present evidence to the grand jurors and they will be tasked with deciding whether or not to formally charge the accused.
In New York, 16 to 23 regular citizens make up a grand jury. They will be presented with evidence from prosecutors such as witness testimony and physical evidence that shows probable cause you committed the alleged offense. A grand jury is designed so regular citizens can decide whether a defendant should stand trial for a crime, rather than leaving this decision to prosecutors.
Grand jury proceedings are much more relaxed than standard courtroom procedures. There is no judge present and the proceedings are held in secret. The reason for the grand jury secrecy is to protect an innocent defendant who may be investigated but never indicted. Secrecy also allows for full cooperation from witnesses and confidential deliberations.
What is an Indictment?
Grand jury proceedings are not a judicial proceeding, so it cannot result in conviction. The proceedings can, however, end in indictment. You have probably heard this term mentioned on crime dramas and in the news, but what exactly does it mean? In simple terms, an indictment is the conclusion of a grand jury investigation that formally accuses someone of committing a felony or misdemeanor crime.
A grand jury can vote on indictment when at least 12 jurors believe there is enough evidence linking you to the offense at question. You will be arraigned a second time after an indictment. Like the first arraignment, you will be notified of the charges against you and be asked to plead. If you plead not guilty, the judge will set a court date and your defense lawyer will start working on pre-trial discovery and motions.
The jurors can also conclude there is not enough evidence linking you to a felony offense, but there is enough evidence for a misdemeanor. You will still be indicted, but the charge against you will be reduced. The court must dismiss charges if the grand jury finds there is not enough evidence linking you a crime. This is known as voting a no true bill.
Preliminary Hearing vs. Grand Jury
New York is one of the few states that makes use of grand juries. While preliminary hearings are still held in the Empire State, most cases will skip this process and go straight to a grand jury. Both proceedings share the same goal, but each one follows a different process.
Unlike a grand jury, a judge presides over preliminary hearings and has the final say in whether there is enough probable cause linking a suspect to the alleged crime. The defense and prosecutors are both present during a preliminary hearing. Both parties will have the chance to present evidence and argue whether a suspect is guilty or not. However, the defense cannot object certain evidence, but they can present evidence that could not be shown during a jury trial.
Preliminary hearings do not end in an indictment. Instead, the process concludes with a document called an “information.” This document is a formal criminal charge which initiates criminal proceedings with the court. The court will reduce the suspected charge if they find you committed a lesser offense.
The Grand Jury and Its Proceedings | New York Statutes – Gain access to the state statutes governing grand juries in the Empire State by following the link. You can find out how jurors are selected, learn about the rules of evidence and see if grand jury reports can be appealed. The information can be found on YPDCrime.com, a comprehensive online digest of New York laws.
Preliminary Hearing and Grand Jury | New York State Unified Court System – Follow the link provided for a brief explanation of preliminary hearings and grand juries. By accessing the site, you can also find information about the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction and sentencing information.
Criminal Defense Lawyer in Nassau County
You may not have been formally charged yet, but the sooner an attorney gets involved, the better your chances of a more favorable outcome. Stephanie Selloni is a well-respected criminal defense attorney who has been practicing law for over a decade. She understands how vital your freedom is and will fight to achieve the best outcome possible.
Call (516) 972-1212 to schedule a time to speak with Ms. Selloni. She defends clients in Nassau County, Westchester County and Suffolk County.