Under the various parts of the New York State Constitution and Article 190 of New York criminal law, a Grand jury must issue an indictment for alleged felonies. In New York, a grand jury is no less than 16 members and no more than 23 members. A grand jury may not proceed with issuing indictments if it cannot satisfy the quorum of at least 16 jurors.
Both the prosecutor and the grand Jury may call fact witnesses to give testimony before the grand jury. However unlike the federal rules, under New York procedure the rules of evidence apply to evidence offered to the grand jury. Based on this evidence the jury may enter an indictment so that the prosecution of the felony may proceed. In contrast, a grand jury is not required to issue an indictment. A grand jury may also direct for the case to be brought as a misdemeanor in a local court. Additionally, for offenders that the grand jury determines should be tried as minors, the grand jury may remove the case from the superior court and transfer it to family court. Finally, in New York a grand jury may also issue reports regarding improper or wrongful acts by government officials.
An experienced attorney like Victor Knapp, Esq. can advise you of your rights under New York law. He fights to protect your Constitutional rights and your freedom.
What is a Grand Jury?
The stated purpose of the grand jury is to have a neutral body of jurors hear and review the evidence submitted. If the jurors are convinced that the evidence is enough to warrant an Indictment, one is issued which allows the prosecutor to go to trial with felony charges.
While many people consider the Grand Jury proceedings to be generally one-sided in favor of the prosecution, such a characterization is dependent on the county in which the court is situated. The prosecutor’s witnesses will testify and Grand Jury members are permitted to ask questions. Further the Grand Jury may request other demonstrative evidence which the prosecutor must provide. In certain cases, it can be a good strategic decision to have a client exercise his or her constitutional right and choose to testify before the jury. When testifying before the Grand Jury, questions may be asked of the defendant or other requests may be made by the jurors. .
Here again, experienced counsel will weigh and balance many different factors in making any recommendation to the client who contemplates putting forth a defense to the charges in the Grand Jury. Many times, it is strategically better not to have the client testify in the Grand Jury and preserve the right to put forth a stronger defense at the ultimate trial. At such point (the trial), counsel will have had a better opportunity (through investigation, discovery and pre-trial proceedings) to ascertain the strength and nuances in the prosecution’s case and be better prepared to address the allegations on a more even turf where prosecution witnesses are subject to cross-examination and the prosecutor has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are facing an indictment for a felony in Queens or in New York, the need for legal planning doesn’t begin on the first day of your trial. Strategic planning and action throughout the criminal process is essential if you hope to minimize the criminal sanctions you face. To speak with experienced criminal defense lawyer Victor Knapp, Esq., please call (718) 263-9000 or contact us online.