The process for conducting a Grand Jury is outlined under New York’s Criminal Procedure Law 190.50.
The Grand Jury is a group of citizens who serve for a definite period of time, whose sole job is to hear felony cases presented by Prosecutors. The Grand Jury includes as few as sixteen but not more than twenty-three people.
To be clear, a Grand Jury does not determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence. A Grand Jury simply decides whether or not they believe there is reasonable cause to believe that the Defendant committed a felony offense.
In the Grand Jury, under New York’s Criminal Procedure Law 190.50, the District Attorney in Erie County presents the evidence against the defendant. There is no judge in the Jury chamber and the criminal defense lawyer is not present, if the defendant chooses not to testify. CPL 190.50 is also clear that it is up to the Prosecutor to make sure that he is following the applicable rules of evidence, or else risk the indictment being subsequently dismissed by a judge. The Grand Jurors are allowed to ask questions and request that they receive proof, such a photographs, testimony from certain witnesses, and or other tangible evidence. As long as what the Grand Jurors’ request is legally permissible, the District Attorney in Erie County must provide it.
In a Grand Jury proceeding, the criminal lawyer for the defense is not permitted to cross examine the witnesses. In fact, because the Grand Jury is a secret proceeding, the defendant and his or her criminal lawyer are not even permitted to be present. If, on the other hand, the Defendant chooses to testify, hopefully with the advise of his criminal defense lawyer, which is his constitutional right, is he allowed into the secret proceeding.
If the Defendant testifies at the Grand Jury, then his criminal lawyer may be present, but he or she will not be able to present any information, cross-examine witnesses, or even object. The Grand Jurors, however, can ask questions and based upon the testimony, request to hear from other witnesses or see certain documents.
If the Grand Jury believes that a felony has been committed in violation of the criminal law, they vote to indict the person. This is called a true bill. An indictment is not proof of any guilt; it is only the legal mechanism by which prosecutors can proceed to trial. If the Grand Jury believes that no criminal offense has been committed, felony or misdemeanor, they vote to dismiss the criminal charges. This is called a no true bill. The Grand Jury can also reduce the felony charges against a person to misdemeanor charges. This is called voting a Prosecutor’s Information.
Decisions and strategy concerning Grand Jury action are critical for a defendant in a felony and must be considered with the assistance of a qualified Criminal attorney in buffalo ny
If you are looking for lawyers in buffalo ny free consultation and facing criminal charges or in the middle of a criminal case, such as a dwi cases, contact a criminal attorney buffalo ny, criminal attorneys in buffalo new york, criminal lawyer buffalo ny or a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Buffalo New York for more information.