Grand Juries Part 1
Non-criminal lawyer folks don't often know much about the Grand Jury process, so I'm going to do a few posts over the next week or so laying out the basic facts of the process, how it works, and ultimately how a person accused of a crime can use the Grand Jury to his advantage in certain cases. As someone who has presented hundreds of cases to grand juries in my previous life as a prosecutor, I have an insider view of how it works.
In Texas, any felony charge must be "indicted" by a Grand Jury before it can proceed to trial in a District Court. An indictment, also called a true bill, is nothing more than a vote conducted in which at least 9 of the 12 Grand Jurors say that there is probable cause, a very low standard. If less than 9 of the Grand Jurors vote to indict, then a "No Bill" is returned and the case goes away (most of the time, it can legally be re-presented later, but that is rare, at least in Harris County.) A "No Bill" is obviously the goal of any person accused of a crime and his attorney.
Next time: Who are the "Grand Jurors" and what goes on in that Grand Jury Room?