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Grand Jury Proceedings in Wisconsin

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal justice systemOver recent months, the news has contained a significant amount of stories relating to a grand jury. However, these stories often provide little information as to the function of the grand jury. The jurors who attend the grand jury are similar to trial jurors in that they are randomly selected from the community and they listen to the evidence. However, there are some differences between the two.

A trial juror determines whether or not a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Grand jurors, on the other hand, decide if there is probable cause that the suspect is guilty of a crime, and they issue indictments that charge the suspect with a crime. Also, grand jury proceedings are secret while trial jurors serve in trials open to the public. Grand juries are made up of 16 to 23 jurors who serve from six to 18 months and trial jurors will usually serve for a week or two, depending on the trial.

There are two very important differences between the grand jury and trial jury. First, a trial jury, in most situations, must reach a unanimous decision to find an individual guilty. But, a grand jury does not need to be unanimous. Second, a grand jury can rely on illegally obtained evidence in order to issue an indictment while trial jurors cannot use illegally obtained evidence to reach a verdict.

If you are facing charges under indictment issued by a grand jury, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will be able to aggressively fight the charges against you and provide you with different ways to defend your case.

Grand Jury Proceedings

As indicated above, there are 23 jurors that serve on a grand jury. The prosecutor will present the charges to the grand jury and introduce just enough evidence to secure an indictment. The proceedings are secret and are usually held without the suspect’s knowledge or presence. When the grand jury determines that there is probable cause to charge the suspect, they return a “true bill.”

Sometimes, the prosecutor will call witnesses, or even the suspect, to testify before the grand jury. If you are called to testify at grand jury proceedings and believe that you are a possible target of the investigation, you have a right to remain silent and not answer incriminating statements. Also, if you are indicted by the grand jury, you are permitted to obtain the transcripts from the hearing to evaluate the evidence. This is part of the reason a prosecutor uses the minimum amount of evidence to secure an indictment.

What Happens If You Are Called to Testify?

If you are required to serve as a witness in a grand jury, you should contact an attorney to determine your options. Sometimes, the prosecutor believes you have information that will help their case. Other times, the prosecutor is trying to extract evidence from your testimony to use against you.

If you are called as a witness to grand jury proceedings, you should consult an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who will be able to speak to the prosecutor and determine whether or not you are a target of the investigation. Also, if you are found to be a target, the defense attorney might be able to work out a deal to grant you immunity from prosecution.

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