grand jury package for felony charges
Time is of the essence if you have been arrested on any felony charge because you cannot know when the government will take its evidence to a grand jury and seek an indictment. In certain circumstances, such as when you have solid evidence that will prove that you are innocent of the charges the government has brought against you, you should talk with a lawyer about creating a presentation of evidence to deliver to the grand jury. This package of evidence would include facts that support your innocence by proving that it is impossible or improbable that you committed this crime. The range of evidence you may want to present to support your innocence is limitless and might include family photos and statements from your employer, trusted advisors, and friends.
Law enforcement only needed probable cause to charge you with a felony and arrest you. Probable cause can mean nothing more than a statement by a complaining witness, especially in any type of alleged sexual offense. And nothing is more frustrating than being charged with a crime you did not commit, yet it happens all the time. The grand jury is the only thing standing between you and the almighty power and financial resources of the State of Texas coming down on you and your family.
After your arrest, law enforcement will continue its investigation which will include interviewing witnesses and gathering video evidence. This evidence will be packaged with the police offense report, any supplemental reports, and all available video footage to give to the county’s district attorney. An assistant district attorney (ADA) will review the evidence and decide whether or not to present the evidence to the county’s grand jury. Sometimes the government will not accept a case from law enforcement and will send it back with a request for more evidence. But if the ADA accepts your case on felony charges, the ADA must present enough evidence to the grand jury to get their permission to prosecute you on the basis of the evidence shown.
The grand jury will typically only hear evidence from the police officer who was involved in your arrest and from the ADA. The testimony does not have to be sworn. Your lawyer cannot be in the grand jury room. So, after the presentation of a one-sided case from the government, the grand jurors will vote in your case to either allow the government to prosecute you based on the evidence it sees or stop the government from prosecuting you. A vote permit prosecution is a vote for a “true bill of indictment” while a vote to stop prosecution is a “no bill.” You want a “no bill.”
There is an antidote to a one-sided presentation to the grand jury by the government. Your lawyer can give the grand jurors a package of evidence you would like them to consider before they vote. This package may include a persuasive letter from your lawyer which might prod the grand jurors to ask favorable questions of the government’s representative (the ADA) and the police officer or other witnesses.
Almost always, you cannot be present in the grand jury room, but your lawyer can request that the grand jury allow you to make a statement in your defense before they vote on your charges. You must seek and accept legal advice before testifying before or submitting anything to the grand jury. All evidence you give to them can and will be used against you by the government if it can be. It may be better to wait and let your lawyer present your defenses to the ADA if you are indicted.
If you are invited to speak to the grand jury, you will be open to questions by the ADA and the grand jurors. Because you will be alone, lawyers rarely, if ever, want you to testify. Therefore, the decision whether to present a defense package to the grand jury and what to include or exclude from it is a serious matter. The government may use the evidence you provide to later present the charges against you with a different grand jury, one they feel is more favorable to them. The grand jury changes every six months.
FYI: While it may feel like the government can have charges pending against you forever when you are released from jail on restrictive bond conditions, the government does have a deadline by which it must seek an indictment or it must dismiss the current prosecution which will release you (upon request to the court) from your bond conditions. The deadline to seek indictment though (on the current arrest) is about one year after you are jailed or admitted to bail.
While it is rare for the grand jury to permit a defendant or their own witnesses to testify, Shellie Stephens PC has experience requesting such testimony, creating grand jury packages, and preparing her clients to testify to the grand jury. Shellie has successfully stopped prosecution in its tracks and gotten a “no bill” from the grand jury.
Please contact Shellie Stephens PC immediately following an arrest on felony charges to discuss whether a grand jury package or grand jury presentation is right for your case. Do it immediately because nothing less than your liberty is at stake.
 The deadline is “about” one year because there is a rule in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure that specifies that an indictment must be returned “on or before the last day of the next term of the court which is held after the defendant’s commitment or admission to bail or on or before the 180th day after the date of commitment or admission to bail, whichever date is later.” Shellie Stephens PC can provide you with a near-exact date by which an indictment must be returned or you should be released from bail (this date can change if the government can show “good cause” for their delay). This rule operates to make sure citizens merely accused of a crime aren’t held in jail or to bail for long periods of time, however, you should know that you can still be indicted until the statute of limitations for your charged offense runs out.