Committing a federal offense means you will be tried in a federal court. These convictions are oftentimes accompanied by hefty fines and prison sentences. The actions you take after receiving a federal indictment are critical.
What is an Indictment?
An indictment is a document sent by the federal government accusing you of a crime. If you receive an indictment, your case has already been reviewed by a grand jury. A grand jury’s job is to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to accuse someone of having committed a crime.
Federal Grand Juries in Georgia
A jury is a group of private citizens who come together to evaluate evidence and make decisions about legal matters. Most commonly, this refers to a jury that will render a guilty or not guilty verdict in a trial. However, a grand jury is different and does its work in the pretrial process.
A grand jury is composed of 32 citizens who live within a federal district’s jurisdiction and are impaneled by the U.S. District Court. These citizens serve from 12-18 month periods, and meet regularly in Georgia’s three federal districts (Northern, Middle, and Southern).
Federal grand juries are essentially employed by the U.S. Attorney’ Office, and are not required to hear both sides of a case during deliberation periods. They can, however, call upon witnesses and seek additional evidence than what’s presented by the prosecution.
The Job of a Grand Jury
A grand jury is presented with evidence from both the prosecution and the defense. Their job is not to determine whether or not the defendant is guilty, but rather if there is enough evidence to indict the defendant for the crime. A grand jury is not concerned with guilt or innocence, just with the evidence that is presented, and whether it is enough to create probable cause. This bar is relatively low, as most cases that go in front of a grand jury result in an indictment. Grand juries are exceedingly rare in Georgia, and are only used for capital offenses, or cases that could result in the death penalty for the defendant.
‘True Bill’ vs. ‘No Bill’ Rulings
If a grand jury determines that there is sufficient evidence to charge you with committing a crime, your indictment will be marked as a ‘true bill,’ and a warrant will be issues for your arrest. If a grand jury determines the evidence is insufficient to make a formal charge, your indictment will be marked ‘no bill’ — the case will not move forward.
These deliberations do not have to be unanimous, nor does the entire grand jury need to be present. A ‘true bill’ can be instituted if there’s a majority vote of 12 or more, and only 16 members need to be present at the time of deliberation.
Presentation To A Jury
If your case goes in front of a grand jury, it means you are facing extremely serious charges. Our team at Wadkins & Wallace understands the seriousness of the situations that our clients face, and do everything in our power to protect them and their legal rights. For us, a grand jury is just an additional opportunity to get the case dismissed. If you are facing criminal charges of this nature, you cannot afford to gamble on your lawyer. If you’ve received a federal indictment, it’s likely that there’s enough evidence for a conviction. The steps you take during the pre-trial period can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. For assistance from the team at Wadkins & Wallace, schedule a free and confidential review of your case online or call (706) 221-9451.