Texas Grand Jury Process
If you’re facing criminal charges in Texas, your case can take different paths. If the state has weak evidence against you, your charges can be dropped. Or, if the state does have a strong case, you could enter into a plea bargain, or your case can go to trial before a jury. In this post, we are going to discuss the grand jury process.
What is a Grand Jury?
It’s a group of 12 men and women, who qualify to serve on a jury under Art. 19.08 of the CCP. In Texas, whenever there’s a felony case that goes to trial or pleads, it’s indicted by a grand jury. However, if the defendant chooses to waive the indictment, the case will proceed according to the Texas Constitution.
The grand jury’s job is to listen to the facts of the case and decide if the state has probable cause to prosecute a defendant. The grand jury is also responsible for investigating the case and the criminal charges. The grand jurors can help the District Attorney search for evidence, which can support the DA’s case. It can also conduct an independent investigation into the charges.
“Are there specific laws about grand juries in Texas?” Yes, grand juries are covered under Chapters 19 and 20 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
How is a Grand Jury Chosen?
To serve on a grand jury, the individual must be:
- At least 18-years-of-age
- A United States citizen
- A resident of Texas
- A resident of the county he or she is to serve
- Qualified to vote in the county they will be serving
- Of sound mind and good moral character
- Able to read and write English
The individual cannot:
- Have been convicted of a theft crime
- Have been convicted of a felony
- Be related to anyone else who has been selected to serve on the jury
- Have served as a juror on a grand jury in the past twelve months
Jury selection is fairly basic. The state wants to ensure that those who are selected to serve on a jury are U.S. citizens and good people. They can’t be criminals or non-U.S. citizens.
Grand Jury No Bill
The term “No Bill” refers to the grand jury’s decision that the evidence presented in a trial was insufficient for an indictment on a criminal charge. As a result of this, the Grand Jury foreman writes “no bill” across the face of a bill in order to indicate the lack of evidence presented to warrant a criminal prosecution.
Grand Jury Deliberations
After questioning has completed, the grand jurors go to a private room so they can deliberate in private. While a grand jury investigation is virtually secret, the deliberations that go on behind closed doors are even more secret. If someone beside the jurors was in the room while the grand jury was deliberating, the case would be reversed and it would have to be tried all over again. Grand jury deliberations are sacred.
Further questions about going to trial? Schedule a consultation with a Plano grand jury representation attorney.