What Is A Grand Jury Indictment in Georgia?
After an arrest, there are numerous steps your case must take in order to reach a resolution. A grand jury indictment is not a part of every case, but it is a very serious thing in Georgia. The State of Georgia reserves grand jury indictments for more severe crimes. If you are formally indicted by the State, you need an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately. Lawson and Berry and their team of Associates have over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience. Contact their offices today for a free case evaluation.
Grand Jury Indictments in Georgia
An indictment occurs when a defendant is formally accused of a crime by the majority vote of a grand jury. Georgia reserves grand jury indictments for capital offenses, ones punishable by death.
In Georgia, a grand jury consists of 16-23 jurors selected from a group of citizens within the county. Grand juries different from trial juries in that grand juries serve for a specified amount of time and meet at regular intervals to consider multiple cases. Trial juries are impaneled for the length of just one trial.
The purpose of the grand jury is to consider the evidence presented and decide whether there is enough probable cause (evidence) to indict you for the charged crime. The prosecutor is the only one who offers evidence for the grand juries. They can call witnesses, and they are not bound by the rules of evidence or the Constitution. Therefore, they can basically present any evidence as long as it is not perjured testimony. So while hearsay is excluded under the Rules of Evidence in standard trials, it is admissible in front of the grand jury. Furthermore, grand jury hearings happen in private, behind closed doors. What happens before the grand jury is not something the prosecutor can talk about to the public and the jurors can never talk about what occurred in the grand jury.
While a trial jury must reach a unanimous vote to convict, a grand jury only requires a majority vote of 12 or more to approve an indictment. Furthermore, only 16 of the 23 jurors have to be present. If they decide to approve the indictment, the words “true bill” will be endorsed on it. If there is not enough evidence to support the indictment, they will endorse it “no bill,” and the case will not move forward, and the charges will be dismissed. In Georgia, about 90% of grand juries indict. Across the country, the average is 95%. Therefore, it is likely that there is an indictment when it goes before a grand jury.
If you are facing a grand jury or have been indicted by a grand jury, you need an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney. Your case is not over yet so do not be fooled into thinking you have no defense. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Lawyers has extensive criminal experience and know how to construct an effective defense. Contact us now to receive your free case evaluation.