Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida Legal Article: Lake County Lawyers

Lake County lawyers who act as prosecutors sometimes allow grand juries to decide whether or not there is enough evidence to file felony charges against a suspect.  Grand juries are similar to trial juries in that they are made up of randomly-selected individuals from the community.  Grand juries hear evidence presented by prosecuting lawyers (from Lake County or elsewhere) and then decide whether they believe enough evidence has been shown to justify filing charges against an accused individual.  Unlike trial juries, however, grand juries hear more than one case over a period of time ranging from 6 to 8 months.

Other important differences include:

  • Grand juries decide whether or not enough evidence is present to bring a defendant to trial.  Petit jurors actually decide whether or not a defendant’s guilt has been proven.
  • Grand juries conduct secret proceedings, whereas petit juries act during public trials.
  • Grand juries are usually made up of 15-23 individuals, whereas most petit juries consist of 6 to 12 individuals.
  • Petit juries generally have to unanimously agree on a verdict to convict a defendant.  Grand juries do not necessarily need a unanimous decision to indict a defendant.

Lake County lawyers serving as prosecuting attorneys usually present the grand jury with a “bill” listing whatever charges they want to levy against a suspect.  They will then put forth the least amount of evidence they think necessary to secure an indictment from the grand jury.  Prosecuting lawyers from Lake County do this because indicted suspects can sometimes obtain transcripts of grand jury proceedings later on, and the prosecutor might not want to give the defendant advanced notice of all their evidence before they submit it at trial.

Grand juries who find there is sufficient evidence to warrant an indictment will issue a “true bill.”  Those who do not find enough evidence instead return a “no-bill.”  Even when grand juries return a no-bill, however, Lake County lawyers acting as prosecutors are not completely barred from filing charges against the suspect.  They may decide to:  (a) present more evidence to the same grand jury at a later time; (b) present the existing evidence to a different grand jury; or (c) bypass the entire grand jury process if allowed in the jurisdiction and file a criminal complaint against the suspect without a grand jury indictment.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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