In New York, before a trial can proceed against an individual accused of a felony, the prosecutor must obtain an indictment from a grand jury. An indictment formally accuses someone of committing a crime. Below is an overview of grand juries in New York.
Who Makes Up A Grand Jury?
Much like regular juries, grand juries are composed of citizens. However, rather than sitting in a courtroom examining evidence during a trial, grand jurors examine the evidence presented at a grand jury proceeding. The purpose of the grand jury proceeding is to determine whether the district attorney has enough evidence to proceed to trial in a criminal case.
How Are Grand Jury Proceedings Different Than Criminal Trials?
As noted above, grand jury proceedings are different than criminal trials. Some of the major differences between the two include:
- A judge isn’t present while evidence is presented at the grand jury. Rather, the district attorney acts as legal advisor to the grand jury.
- As opposed to trials, which are usually public events, grand jury proceedings are conducted privately. Individuals present at a grand jury proceeding typically include the grand jurors, a clerk, a stenographer, assistant district attorneys, court officers, a witness, and an attorney.
- Unless he or she testifies, the accused isn’t present during the grand jury proceeding. In addition, the accused: 1) doesn’t know the identity of any witnesses, 2) isn’t permitted to listen to any testimony, and 3) isn’t permitted to cross-examine any witnesses.
- In criminal trials, the reasonable doubt standard of proof is used to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant. However, at grand jury proceedings, the district attorney is only required to establish reasonable cause to believe that the accused committed an offense—a far easier standard to establish.
- In a criminal trial, the district attorney must persuade all 12 jurors of a defendant’s guilt. However, at a grand jury proceeding, the district attorney must only persuade a percentage of the grand jurors to receive an indictment.
New York Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you’ve been charged with a crime in New York, it’s imperative that you engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case. At Barket Epstein, our experienced New York criminal defense attorneys will ensure that you are fully apprised of your legal rights and provided with the most effective defense possible. Our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys, who come equipped with a long track record of success in negotiating favorable plea bargains and reaching favorable outcomes in the courtroom, will fight tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected. Whether you have been arrested and charged with a crime or are simply being investigated, the attorneys at Barket Epstein are here to help. Please contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys for a consultation.