Clients and family members often express concern when the idea of the Grand Jury is discussed.
The Grand Jury determines who is indicted and who is not indicted. In most cases, an Indictment, or “True Bill,” results from the presentation of a case to the Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury determines that a case should not go forward, then the case is “No Billed.”
What does all of this mean?
In Georgia, the Grand Jury consists of 16 to 23 individuals drawn from the pool of people who may serve as jurors. This group meets from time to time based on the need of each individual county.
A case is presented to the Grand Jury by the District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney controls what cases are presented to the Grand Jury. Defendants have no say in presentation and no right to be present (*except for law enforcement officers charged with a crime).
The Grand Jury determines whether enough evidence exists for a case to go forward. The Grand Jury does not decide guilt or acquittal. As such, most cases presented to the Grand Jury become True Bill Indictments.
In cases where the State has little evidence or there is an affirmative defense, lobbying, information sharing, and negotiating with the DA’s office could prevent Indictment and find a resolution without Grand Jury presentation. A lawyer can best advise when these actions will have better results.
Remember, the Grand Jury presentation is but one step in the criminal justice process.