What is a Grand Jury Package?

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A Grand Jury packet is information that a criminal defense attorney provides to the Grand Jury in a felony case to persuade the Grand Jury to identify a case as “no probable cause found” (leading to a dismissal), or sometimes to charge a case filed as a felony as a misdemeanor. For strategic reasons, Grand Jury packs are not used in all cases, although they can be a useful tool to get an excellent result. This article provides an overview of the Grand Jury process, what a Grand Jury Packet is, and when a criminal defense attorney should use this tool.

What is a Grand Jury?

A Grand Jury is a group of twelve jurors who meet to hear evidence with the help of a prosecutor at the beginning of a felony case. Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the Grand Jury’s job is to “investigate all of the indictable crimes” in a particular case. An indictment can be considered a formal charge. The right to have a case go before a Grand Jury is constitutionally protected by the Texas Constitution and the Federal Constitution.

Although a prosecutor often helps cross-examine witnesses, Grand Jury members, who are drawn from the community, are in charge of the proceedings. The Grand Jury has the power to call witnesses and even direct certain aspects of the investigation. A criminal defense attorney is generally not present at the Grand Jury.

After the Grand Jury hears the evidence, members will vote on whether there is “probable cause” for an indictment to be returned. At least 9 members must find probable cause for an allegation, also known as a “probable cause found”. If a Grand Jury does not find probable cause, that is known as “no probable cause found,” which usually leads to a dismissal. Although a case may be filed as a felony, it is also possible that you could be charged with a misdemeanor. For example, if a person is arrested and charged with felony assault by intoxication (which is a DWI involving serious bodily injury) but the Grand Jury does not believe there is evidence of “serious bodily injury,” it might choose to indict the person. charged with misdemeanor. DWI, although misdemeanors are generally not presented to the Grand Jury.

How can a defense attorney use a Grand Jury packet?

Although a defense attorney is generally not allowed in the Grand Jury room, the defense attorney may send a “Grand Jury Package” to the Grand Jury. This package is typically a set of documents, exhibits, and letters addressed to the Grand Jury, which a defense attorney provides in hopes of persuading the Grand Jury to decline to find probable cause (as noted above, known as as “no probable cause found”). A Grand Jury packet must explicitly ask the Grand Jury to find no probable cause or to indict the defendant for a misdemeanor.

A typical Grand Jury packet presented by an experienced attorney will contain a letter from the attorney setting forth facts useful to the defendant, as well as any supporting documentation such as witness statements, letters of recommendation, photographs, videos, or any other thing that is useful. Unlike a trial in a criminal case, where evidence is strictly controlled by the rules of evidence, Grand Jury packets can contain just about anything. For example, it is common for Grand Jury packets to contain reports from polygraph examiners (so-called “lie detector” tests), even though a lie detector test is almost never admissible in a criminal trial.

When should a defense attorney use a Grand Jury packet?

A Grand Jury packet should not be used in every case. A Grand Jury packet will typically contain a defense attorney’s strategy and should therefore only be provided to the Grand Jury (and the prosecutor) if there is a high probability that it will be successful. Additionally, while a defense presented in a grand jury package can be strong, it is also important for a prosecutor to be receptive to the idea of ​​a grand jury package. If a prosecutor wants to see a charged case, they can usually influence the Grand Jury to do so.

Attorney Jose Ceja is a former prosecutor who has presented hundreds of cases to the Grand Jury. As a defense attorney, he has had countless “no probable cause found” cases ranging from aggravated assault, sexual assault, and robbery. He has the experience to know when a Grand Jury Package is appropriate and how to maximize the chances of success. If you are accused of a crime in the greater Houston area, José Ceja is an excellent choice. Call today for a free consultation.



John Smith

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