The grand jury process is one in which the State of New Jersey will gather all charges against a defendant and attempt to convince a jury of as many as 23 people that there is a legal basis for indictment so that the case can move forward. In many instances, the grand jury indictment is a formality with a long list of charges presented.
Of the 23 people on the grand jury, a majority must agree to indict a defendant, meaning 12 people must vote that the charges are valid and the case can go on to arraignment. The people that serve on a grand jury are everyday citizens who are summoned by the state to do so as part of their civic duty. When the people on the grand jury are presented with evidence, their decision doesn't mean that the defendant is judged to be “guilty” of the crime he or she is accused of. It simply means that the case will move forward for the prosecutor to attempt to convince an actual criminal jury of the validity of the charges and win a conviction at trial.
Possible Decisions by a NJ Grand Jury
The grand jury can find that there is cause for the case to move forward and vote for indictment or it can dismiss the charges. In the case of an indictment, it is referred to as a “true bill”. A true bill is not a determination of guilt, but rather it is a decision that the case as presented—whether it's a crime in the first, second, third or fourth degree—has enough evidence to continue.
In the event that the grand jury decides that not enough evidence has been presented against the accused for the charges filed, it has the capability of voting that the charges be dismissed. This is known as “no bill”. Much of the time, the prosecutor will provide a litany of charges in an effort to make sure that the defendant is indicted for at least some of the charges for which he or she is accused. If the defendant is accused of a crime and is being held on the charges, the issuance of a no bill is important because the decision will result in the defendant's immediate release from custody.
Speak to an Experienced Lawyer
Because you or a loved one may be facing a grand jury doesn't mean there will be an automatic decision on a true bill for indictment and there will be a trial. There are many aspects to a New Jersey criminal case and the grand jury is simply part of the process. Even though it is a nerve wracking part of one's life to be accused of a crime and have to face the grand jury, that doesn't mean you're not entitled to quality representation to assist you in this difficult time. The office of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey is experienced and knowledgeable in all facets of the New Jersey legal process and can walk you step-by-step through it.
Villani & DeLuca attorneys can help you or your loved one in the sometimes scary and confusing process of the New Jersey legal system. If you are from Monmouth County or Ocean County, such as the towns of Brick, Belmar, Asbury Park, Toms River, Long Branch or Point Pleasant, and are facing the prospect of a grand jury indictment, call Villani & DeLuca for a free consultation today.