Navigating the Texas grand jury system can be intricate. Vital questions such as how long it takes for a grand jury to indict, the burden of proof, or what happens if you’re not indicted within 180 days may arise. The selection process for grand jury members is equally important.
The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, are here to guide you through these complexities. These former felony chief prosecutors put their invaluable experience to work for you, providing an unmatched defense.
What Is The Grand Jury Law In Texas?
In Texas, grand jury law refers to the process where a group of 12 citizens is chosen to evaluate evidence and decide whether there’s sufficient proof to charge someone with a crime.
These proceedings are private, with only vital parties present. Indictments, or formal charges, are issued if nine or more jurors agree. Unlike trial juries, grand juries don’t decide guilt, only whether a trial should occur.
Grand jury law is critical to the justice system, protecting citizens’ rights against unfounded accusations. It’s vital to understand its role to understand how a grand jury function in Texas, and what it means if you are facing criminal charges.
How Long Does It Take For A Grand Jury To Indict In Texas?
The time it takes for a grand jury in Texas to decide on a case differs significantly and often depends on how complex the case is. They meet when most of the jury members agree to. They’re not permitted to take a break for more than three days in a row without the judges’ approval.
If the judge agrees, the break could be extended. They try to match their break times with when the court is not in session. An indictment decision could be reached in a single session or could span several sessions based on these.
Remember, an indictment doesn’t determine guilt or innocence; it merely states there’s enough evidence for a case to proceed to trial. Thus, the process ensures careful consideration of the evidence, safeguarding individual rights against unwarranted prosecutions.
What Is The Burden Of Proof For A Grand Jury In Texas?
The standard of evidence required for a grand jury in Texas is less rigorous than a criminal trial. They are tasked with determining if there’s “probable cause,” meaning enough reason to believe a crime has been committed and that the person accused may be implicated. “Probable cause” means it’s more likely than not that a crime has been committed.
This threshold is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required for conviction in a trial. The grand jury doesn’t determine guilt or innocence but whether there’s enough evidence for a case to go to trial. This system serves to protect citizens from unfounded criminal charges.
When Is A Grand Jury Indictment Required?
A grand jury indictment is typically required for severe crimes, also known as felonies. This process is designed to protect individuals from unfounded prosecution by ensuring there’s enough evidence to proceed to trial.
In the United States, the Fifth Amendment mandates federal felonies to be initiated by a grand jury indictment. In states like Texas, grand jury indictments are generally required for felonies but not for lesser offenses, known as misdemeanors.
However, there can be exceptions based on jurisdiction or the nature of the crime. It’s always crucial to consult with a legal professional for specific cases.
How Are People Selected To Serve On A Grand Jury In Texas?
Selection for grand juries in Texas is a multi-step process. It starts with a large pool of potential jurors drawn from registered voters, licensed drivers, or other approved lists. From these individuals, prospective grand jurors are randomly chosen and summoned to court.
Here, a process called “voir dire” is held, where a judge or lawyers question the prospective jurors to evaluate their ability to be impartial. Those with biases, preconceived opinions, or conflicts of interest are generally dismissed. The remaining individuals are randomly chosen or agreed upon by attorneys to form the 12-person grand jury.
What Happens If You Are Not Indicted Within 180 Days
In Texas, if an individual is held in custody or bail and no indictment is presented within 180 days, the law requires dismissal of the prosecution unless the court, with a justified cause, decides otherwise. This period can be extended to the end of the next court term if it falls after the 180-day window.
If no action is taken, the defendant’s bail is discharged. A surety can file a motion to expedite this process. However, it’s important to note that the State’s attorney may dismiss a case at any time with court approval and sufficient reasoning.
Texas Grand Jury Proceedings: Secure Your Rights With A Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney
In the complex Texas grand jury system, you need the best defense on your side. Vinas & Graham, PLLC is a team of former felony chief prosecutors who are now dedicated to protecting your rights. Their joint proficiency is leveraged in your favor, providing a top-tier defense that stands unparalleled among their peers.
Remember, their understanding of law enforcement techniques can give you an invaluable edge in your case. So don’t delay – your defense starts the moment you’re accused. Contact Vinas & Graham, PLLC, today, and let them guide you every step of the way.