Grand Jury Process in Texas
Grand Juries & Felony Indictments
In Texas, a charge for a felony indictment comes from the grand jury. If
the grand jury determines there is sufficient evidence to charge the defendant,
an indictment is issued. If the grand jury determines there are inadequate
grounds for prosecution, a "no bill" is issued. A "no bill"
means there is insufficient evidence to prosecute someone. When a no bill
is issued, the defendant is released from custody. If the grand jury determines
there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, then a "true bill"
is issued, and the defendant remains in custody or on bond pending trial.
After the indictment has been issued, the defendant will be arraigned,
meaning they will be brought before the trial judge and they must enter
a plea. While a guilty plea is an admission that the defendant committed
the crime, it is often done after the prosecutor and the defense attorney
has negotiated a plea agreement. In such case the defendant has agreed
to plead guilty and the district attorney has agreed to a lesser punishment
than what would be expected after a trial and conviction. This process
is referred to as plea bargaining.
A not guilty plea contests the charges and challenges the state to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did commit the crime. This
results in a trial. A plea of
nolo contendere is a plea of no-contest. Under the law, this plea has the same effect
as a guilty plea.
Going to Trial
Before the trial, pre-trial hearings will take place. These entail questions
such as the sufficiency of the indictment, the scheduling of the trial,
and the admissibility of evidence. During jury selection, a panel of approximately
50 potential jurors will be assembled and after each side and the judge
questions the panel; 12 jurors will be selected to hear the evidence.
Once both sides have rested and after closing arguments, the jury will
then go into the jury room where they will deliberate. In criminal cases,
the jury must come to a unanimous conclusion for the defendant to be found
guilty. Once the jury has reached a conclusion, it will inform the bailiff,
who will tell the judge and the court will be back in session. The judge
will then read the verdict in court. If the jury cannot come to a unanimous
conclusion then a mistrial will be declared and the jury dismissed. At
this point the prosecution will decide if the case is worthy of a second trial.
If the defendant is found not guilty, then he will be released and he cannot
be retried for that offense. However, if a guilty verdict has been issued,
the sentencing phase of the trial will begin.
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense and are facing a criminal
trial, it's imperative that you contact a Plano
criminal defense attorney from
The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC immediately!