Grand Jury Decisions


Does The Grand Jury Make A Decision Before Someone Is Charged?

Generally, a decision is determined before someone is charged. Someone can be charged on a complaint, which is a sworn affidavit from a police officer or a federal agent as to the probable cause of how someone might have violated the law; then a magistrate judge or district court judge read that affidavit and approves it. If this occurs, then the person can be arrested on a complaint. But within 30 days, the complaint has to be presented, and the evidence surrounding that complaint has to be presented to a grand jury for them to decide whether or not there is probable cause to proceed to an indictment.

At The Grand Jury Level, Is It Likely That Someone Will Be Charged?

More than likely there is going to be a movement towards someone being charged, I have been successful in pointing out to the federal government that my client would better serve them as a witness to the particular crime or as a witness to some type of evidence in the crime as opposed to being charged as a defendant.

How Would You Advise Someone That Doesn’t Hire An Attorney For Fear Of Looking Guilty?

I would say you should always get an attorney, at the minimum, just to consult with that attorney to tell them the facts and circumstances of why you think you may be investigated or what knowledge you may have. I would say you should always get an attorney because you should not rely on your own knowledge or your own skill; and when you’re being interviewed by a federal agent, you don’t know why they’re asking you certain questions, what their motives are or who they may think is a target for their investigation or charges.

How Does Cooperating With The Federal Government Work Out For People?

Very often when the federal government charges an individual with a crime, there is a conspiracy charge, which is a count or a charge in the indictment, with a conspiracy consisting of two or more people who’ve come together to commit a crime. One of the defendants in a conspiracy, which is a multiple defendant case, typically winds up cooperating with the government, offering testimony or evidence about others charged in that particular case or others that they may know who have participated in criminal activity, and very often they will cooperate to get a reduced sentence.

Can This Happen Where Immunity Is Applicable In A Federal Case?

It could if the person is not charged. Immunity is somewhat rare in a federal charge or investigation. But often, if someone is a target or a suspect in a federal investigation, the goal is to do what’s possible so that they’re not charged and try to get a letter of immunity so that they can testify for the government.

What Are The Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

The United States Sentencing Guidelines is a book that has all of the various criminal offenses in it, and it has a table in levels that calculates what the sentencing commission recommends to be an appropriate sentence for any given case. The purpose of the sentencing guidelines is so that there’s no sentencing disparity among the different jurisdictions, meaning that someone charged in Washington State for a particular crime would likely get that same sentence if they were charged with the same crime in Florida or any other state.

Do Most Federal Criminal Cases Settle Or Go To Trial?

Most cases in federal court that are charged involve some type of plea or reduction that’s worked out. Most cases in federal court do not go to trial.


For more information on Grand Jury & Federal Criminal Cases, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 228-1400 today.