Maryland law provides for two ways a felony can be charged in the circuit court:
- by filing a criminal information; or
- by a grand jury indictment.
The prosecutor has the discretion to decide which route to take when seeking to charge a crime.
The grand jury is very different than the jury that decides the case at trial. A grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence. Instead, the grand jury decides whether or not there is enough evidence to indict you for an alleged crime, which gets the process started.
The prosecutor shows evidence to the 23-member grand jury, and if they decide that there’s no probable cause, the prosecutor cannot bring formal charges – but this does not mean that’s the end of your trouble. Charges can still be brought against you if more evidence comes to light.
On the other hand, if the grand jury does find probable cause for indictment, formal charges will be filed, and the case against you will proceed. At this stage, you will want to mount your legal defense and work toward either a favorable plea agreement or set yourself up for your best shot at trial.
And if you’ve already had a Maryland criminal defense lawyer working for you at the grand jury stage, you’re one step ahead. Contact me, attorney Jim Crawford, to discuss your options if you’re under investigation.
Because a prosecutor wields enormous discretion and power (to the extent that his or her office policy constraints or compels the prosecutor to act), grand juries serve as a kind of public protector, a check on the prosecutor’s authority.
Grand juries are often summoned for a serious white collar and other felony crimes, including:
While not every state in the U.S. uses grand juries, Maryland does (and, at the federal level, “capital or infamous crimes” must be presented to a grand jury). According to a handbook published by the Maryland court system, prosecutors must bring criminal complaints on something more than “rumor, speculation, or hunch.” In other words, the case must have merit and the prosecutor must have probable cause.
Find an Attorney for Grand Jury Investigations in Baltimore, MD
Grand juries hear evidence only from the prosecution, not the defense. But this doesn’t mean you have options at this stage of the case. Because the job of a grand jury is to help determine probable cause, you can be building your defense at the same time with the help of a Baltimore defense attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of grand jury proceedings.
Call us to find an attorney focused on the indictment investigation process in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s best if you get started by contacting our firm right away, rather than waiting for an indictment. Call 443-709-9999 today for a free consultation.