Title: What happens in a federal grand jury?
Description:Michigan Criminal defense attorney Barton Morris discusses what happens in a federal grand jury.
What happens in a federal grand jury?
Every defendant has a right to be indicted by a grand jury. A federal grand jury is a collection of between 16 and 23 citizens who will convene in a courtroom. But it’s a courtroom without a judge. It’s a courtroom with just a prosecutor, where the prosecutor will present evidence to the grand jury in an effort to prove whether somebody should be charged with a crime.
Federal prosecutors will present evidence, which could be witnesses, could be documentary evidence. At least 12 of those grand jurors will then come to a conclusion as to whether an indictment should be handed down. An indictment is the actual charge of a crime of somebody. It’s a very secretive process. Everybody is sworn to secrecy. The jury is not allowed to talk about what happens. The prosecutor is not allowed to talk about what happens; nor is the court reporter.
There’ll be witnesses that testify. They can’t be sworn to secrecy. They’re simply only discussing what they’re being a witness about. But it is generally a very secretive process. Even as a defense attorney is not allowed in grand jury proceedings. If I am representing a witness, then I can be outside of the grand jury room – the courtroom. It is the procedure where federal prosecutors use to instigate and prosecute crimes against defendants.