A federal grand jury consists of a group of people, usually 23 people, who the court selects to determine whether an accusation against a defendant is valid. The Constitution guarantees that a person has the right to a grand jury before the court holds a trial against him or her for most crimes. If the grand jury determines that there is enough evidence to move forward, the government may bring a lawsuit against the defendant.
If you know you need to appear before a grand jury, you should have a diligent lawyer representing you who understands the Nebraska federal grand jury process. A knowledgeable attorney could walk you through the procedure and help you understand what you can expect and how to adequately prepare. Each part of a criminal proceeding is essential to the final outcome, and a lawyer can help you work towards the best possible result.
Understanding the Grand Jury Process
Across the country, there are many district courts that hear cases involving federal crimes. When alleged criminal activity takes place in Nebraska, if the act violated federal law, the Nebraska federal district court has the jurisdiction or power to decide the issue. Though there are federal courts in each state, the Nebraska federal court has court rules that are unique to that court and only attorney’s with permission from the Nebraska district may appear there.
How a Grand Jury Operates
While the defendant may have an attorney, the lawyer must remain outside during the presentation. The judge is also not present, though a court reporter is. The prosecutor may present evidence to the jury that can include live witness testimony. The only evidence the grand jury hears is what the prosecutor presents.
Once the prosecutor has presented their reasons why they want to proceed against the defendant, the jury will deliberate. The panel does not determine whether the defendant is guilty. Instead, they determine if there is probable cause to believe that a defendant committed the act alleged.
The grand jury may consist of 16 to 23 people that are meant to be a cross-section of the community in Nebraska. At least 12 of the jurors must be present to vote on whether to indict. There is a handbook that further explains the role of a juror.
Witnesses to a Case in Nebraska
When a witness appears before the grand jury, that person may consult with an attorney, but the lawyer must stay outside of the proceeding. That means that a witness may leave the room to speak with a lawyer, but the lawyer must rely on information from the witness.
A witness may also refuse to present testimony based on the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. An attorney can further explain the role of witnesses in the Nebraska federal grand jury process.
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Learn More about the Nebraska Federal Grand Jury Process
An experienced attorney can further explain the Nebraska federal grand jury process. Though a person cannot bring his or her attorney into the room with him or her, he or she can get advice on how to respond to the prosecutor and what is allowed. To learn more, call Berry Law today for a confidential case evaluation.