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Grand Jury Cases

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Grand Jury Cases

Facing a grand jury in Houston?

What Constitutes Grand Jury Cases in Houston, TX?

In the state of Texas, all crimes which carry a potential felony charge must be presented to a grand jury. According the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the duties of a grand jury are to inquire about all offenses known to the grand jury members or of crimes presented to the grand jury by a state attorney or other credible individuals.

After hearing the evidence presented to them, the grand jury will decide on whether or not there is credible evidence that probable cause exists that a felony has occurred. If such evidence is present, they may choose to indict the suspect with the proper charges.

What Types Of Cases Can Go Before A Grand Jury

As stated above, a grand jury is called in to investigate whether or not there is probable cause a felony has been committed. There are a wide range of felonies according to Texas law.

There are five levels of felonies in Texas:

  • State jail felonies
  • Third – first degree felonies
  • Capital felonies

When you are charged with a felony, you may face a wide range of criminal penalties. If you are convicted of a felony, you will face a combination of jail time and financial penalties.

What Occurs During A Grand Jury Hearing?

Grand jury cases are unlike any other aspects of the criminal justice process. If you are the subject of a potential felony conviction, you have the right to have your case heard by a grand jury. The grand jury’s sole purpose is not to decide whether or not a crime occurred, but whether or not there is enough credible evidence to suggest there is probable cause a felony has been committed.

These proceedings are conducted in secret with only a small number of individuals present for the hearing and those who are present are sworn to secrecy. During the grand jury hearing the members of the grand jury will hear evidence brought to them by the prosecuting attorney. This may include second-hand information the prosecutor has discovered or it may include evidence which is gathered by interviewing witnesses.

Once all of the relevant evidence has been provided to the grand jury, they will deliberate and pass their decision. They have the ability to indict a person on any felony or misdemeanor in which they feel shows significant probable cause.

Grand jury cases are non-adversarial. This means that the grand jury is only there to gain evidence about the crime at hand. The prosecuting attorney is not required to present to the grand jury any exculpatory evidence, that is, any evidence which may point to your innocence.

If you have been called to testify, your attorney may be able to help you uncover and present any evidence which could lead to a non-indictment.

Facing a grand jury in Houston?

What Can You Expect During Grand Jury Cases?

If a grand jury is called, they have the ability to subpoena witnesses and other material evidence to investigate if there is probable cause a felony was committed. They may also subpoena the accused person to testify before them. If this occurs, you will be notified of the charge for which they are discussing before you appear.

You will also have the right to hire an attorney or have one provided by the state if you cannot afford one. There are strict guidelines about what may transpire within a grand jury room. If you are called to testify as an accused person, you still maintain all of your constitutional rights such as the guarantee that you will not be forced to provide testimony which may lead to your conviction.

It is important you are represented by a trusted criminal attorney who can help advise you on your grand jury proceedings. During your time in front of a grand jury, you will be placed under oath to answer all questions in a truthful manner; however, you do not have to incriminate yourself by answering a question.

Understand that all of your answers may be used against you in further court proceedings. While your attorney is not allowed in the grand jury room itself, they are allowed to be on the premises and provide you guidance outside of the room.

Preparing For Grand Jury Cases

As previously mentioned, if you have been called in front of a grand jury as the accused you have the right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney. There are a number of ways you and your attorney can prepare to face the grand jury.

While they are not allowed to be present inside the grand jury chamber, they can be present to advise you outside of the room. Your attorney will help guide you on the appropriate answers to questions you may face. The time you spend in front of the grand jury can be long, stretching hours or even days.

A good criminal defense attorney will help prepare you as best as they can for this long-term questioning.

Secrecy Of Grand Juries

Facing a grand jury in Houston?

One characteristic of all grand jury cases is they are to be kept secret by anyone who is present at the hearing. This includes the grand jury itself, the attorney, any witnesses, and yourself. The only exception is that the prosecuting attorney may share what was learned with other attorneys working on the case.

They may also be allowed to share what occurred during the proceedings with an attorney investigating another crime. While they are allowed to share this information, they must inform the other party that the information being shared was learned during a grand jury hearing.

This person is then required to keep these findings secret as well. Any breach of secrecy can lead to a person facing a charge of contempt of court which may lead to a fine or jail time.

What Type Of Penalties Do I Face If Convicted?

The following is a list of the type and severity of punishment for felonies in Texas.

  • State Jail felonies:
    • 180 days to two years in state jail
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Third Degree felonies:
    • Two years to 10 years in jail
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Second Degree felonies:
    • Two years to 20 years in jail
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • First Degree felonies:
    • Five to 99 years in jail
    • Can lead to a life in prison sentence
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Capital felonies:
    • Life in prison without the possibility of parole
    • Can lead to a death penalty sentence

Contact A Trusted Local Houston Attorney For Help With Your Grand Jury Case

Being charged with a felony after your grand jury case puts you up against a great potential of penalties. If you are called to face a grand jury to testify, it is within your rights to hire a criminal attorney to help you protect your rights.

If you have been called in front of a grand jury contact a trusted, local criminal lawyer. Call the attorneys of Vinas & Graham, PLLC at 713-229-9992 to help you with your grand jury investigation.

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