If you’ve received a jury summons in the great state of Texas, you might be wondering what a grand jury is? Or, maybe even how they’re used within our legal system? Before you arrive for jury date, it can be helpful to gather information from experienced local attorneys, like Vinas & Graham. These law professionals can answer all of your questions and help you better understand the grand jury process.
What’s The Difference Between A Texas Grand Jury And A Regular Jury?
Most men and women have experienced a traditional jury setting at some point or another, even if it was only on TV or in a movie. While a Texas grand jury and a regular, or trial jury do share certain similarities, there is a significant difference between the two. The most noteworthy is the purpose.
In grand jury circumstances, no formal charges are filed against possible suspects. In fact, the group of 16-23 grand jurors are not present during the criminal trial itself; they are only employed during pre-trial proceedings. Their sole purpose is to determine whether there is enough probable cause for the prosecutor to file formal charges against a suspect and indict them.
Grand jury proceedings also take place in secrecy with only one lawyer or witness allowed into the room at any given time to speak with the jurors.
How Is A Grand Jury Selected?
Despite their difference in roles, the grand jury selection process is much the same as the one used to pick trial jurors. All local citizens that meet specific eligibility requirements are put into a random drawing for possible jury duty selection. The conditions that must be met for participation, include:
- You must be over the age of 18.
- You must not have any physical or mental disabilities.
- You must proficiently speak the English language.
- You must not have any pending felony charges or convictions.
- You must have been living within the court’s district at least one year.
If you are chosen for jury selection, you will be asked to answer various questions by the judge and lawyers involved in the case.
When Does A Case Go To A Grand Jury?
There are three different scenarios criminal attorneys like Vinas & Graham describe as the most common reasons a case is sent to a grand jury. They are:
- If a felony-level crime is committed, but the perpetrator is not known, the case will be sent to a grand jury to receive what’s called a “no-arrest indictment.” This filing serves as an arrest warrant, so when a suspect is discovered, there will already be charges against them.
- If a person is arrested for a felony-level crime, the case will automatically go to a grand jury within one week.
- If there is no arrest, but a suspect is known, lawyers will present the case to a grand jury. If the jury chooses to indict, the perpetrator will be brought in at that time.
What Are The Requirements For A Grand Jury To Indict Someone?
The grand jury process to indict someone and proceed to trial is quite simple. The only thing a grand jury has to do is determine there’s enough evidence to support probable cause the person committed the crime.
How Long Does A Grand Jury Process Take?
In comparison to a trial juror experience, most Texas grand jury processes are rather lengthy. On average, selected grand jurors should expect to serve at least one or two days a week for 12-24 months.
How Long Does The State Of Texas Have To Indict?
If you were arrested for a felony-level crime, the state of Texas must indict you before the statute of limitations runs out. This time period lasts for a minimum of five years after your initial arrest.
Do You Still Have Questions About The Texas Grand Jury Process?
Trying to understand the ins and outs of the Texas grand jury process can feel like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. If you still have questions about how grand juries are used or what the proceedings entail, please contact our expert criminal attorneys at Vinas & Graham by phone today at (713) 229-9992! You can also check us out on Facebook for more great information!