Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Lawyers Milton | Criminal Defense Lawyer | Cobb Law Firm


For felony crimes, Milton lawyers serving as prosecutors decide in certain cases to let grand juries make the decision whether charges should be filed against a defendant.  Grand juries resemble trial juries (called “petit juries”: in that they are composed of individuals selected at random.  Grand jurors listen as prosecuting lawyers in Milton present evidence and then decide whether or not charges should be brought against an individual.  Unlike trial juries, however, grand juries do not hear just one case.  Rather, they typically oversee many cases over a 6-to-18-month time period.  Other crucial differences include:

  • Petit jurors decide on a defendant’s guilt. Grand juries simply decide whether enough evidence exists to warrant trying a defendant.
  • Grand juries conduct secret proceedings, whereas petit juries act during public trials.
  • Grand juries typically consist of 15-23 people, while most petit juries consist of 6 to 12 people.
  • Petit juries typically must reach a unanimous verdict in order to convict a defendant. Grand juries do not need a unanimous decision to indict.

Lawyers from Milton who serve as prosecutors present the grand jury with a “bill” setting out the charges against an individual.  They also introduce the minimum amount of evidence necessary–in their opinion–to secure a grand jury indictment.  This is because, although grand jury proceedings are secret, indicted suspects can sometimes get transcripts of the grand jury proceedings at a later time.  Also, while Milton lawyers prosecuting cases can call suspects as witnesses during the grand jury proceedings, they usually choose not to do so since suspects can simply invoke their right not to incriminate themselves under the Fifth Amendment.

When a grand jury finds enough evidence to indict, it will issue what is called a “true bill.”  Otherwise, the grand jury returns a “no-bill.”  Even in situations where the grand jury returns a no-bill, however, prosecutors may still file charges against a suspect by either:  (a) returning to the same grand jury and presenting more evidence; (b) presenting the same evidence to a new grand jury; or (c) if in a jurisdiction that allows it, bypassing the entire grand jury process by filing a criminal complaint against the suspect.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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