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4 Things You Should Know About Grand Juries

Most states use grand juries in criminal cases, but many make the process optional. In New York, grand juries are required for certain serious crimes. Some of these crimes are for “white collar” offenses, such as fraud accusations. In these situations, it is essential to get a New York white-collar crimes attorney involved.

Although grand juries are relatively common, they are often misunderstood. Below are a few “must-know” features about grand juries in New York

1. Three types of people are called into grand jury proceedings.

There are only three reasons that anyone is called to be questioned before a grand jury. Sometimes your role may be difficult to determine.

  • You are a target. The target is someone who the prosecution believes is responsible for the crime alleged.
  • You are a subject. This person is someone of interest. The prosecution is considering whether they want to charge you with a crime.
  • You are a witness. Witnesses provide vital information to grand juries, but they can often put themselves at risk in the process.

Regardless of what your role is, testifying before a grand jury is a serious matter that cannot be understated. Saying the wrong thing in front of a grand jury can change your life forever.

2. Grand juries are used in both federal and state cases.

Grand juries are better known at the federal level, but the state of New York uses them for serious charges as well. They are used to decide whether there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime.

Even asserting a charge can have a severely detrimental effect on someone’s life. Grand juries are used to ensure that the prosecution is not charging people on a whim or because they have an unsubstantiated suspicion. A grand jury does not decide whether someone is guilty or not guilty, but they determine whether the accused should have a written statement of the charges against them.

3. Grand juries are authorized by the Constitution.

The Fifth Amendment requires that federal courts use grand juries. Because the Fourteenth Amendment makes the States subject to the Fifth Amendment, it affects them as well. However, states can use a preliminary hearing with a judge instead of using a grand jury. Nonetheless, 48 states use grand juries in some capacity.

4. Grand juries are made up of members of your community.

A grand jury generally consists of no more than 23 people. Twelve people are needed to decide whether to issue charges or dismiss the charges. These individuals are drawn at random from the same pool of people that are used to make up regular juries in a county. A county or supreme court in New York will generally put together grand juries.

Grand juries must be U.S Citizens and a resident of the county in which they are called. They must also be over the age of 18. They cannot have been convicted of a felony at any point. Jurors must also be able to read and understand English.

Being called to testify before a grand jury is very serious, and you need an attorney to help with this type of proceeding. Contact the New York white collar crimes attorneys at Law Office of Mark J. Sacco if you are subject to a grand jury investigation or indictment.

Posted in: White Collar Crime