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When is grand jury indictment needed?

3708 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Mac45
Just out of curiosity. About criminal law here in Florida. (1) In what circumstances must a prosecutor seek a grand jury indictment and may not proceed to try a case on his/her own? (2) In what circumstances is a grand jury indictment optional (up to the prosecutor) before proceeding? (3) In what circumstances (if any) must a prosecutor proceed on his/her own without a grand jury indictment?
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In my experience, idictments are sought when probable cause is not simply evident and witnesses need to be called, who, in aggregate may establish probable cause otherwise not obvious.

Usually conspiracy cases require indictments. Also any case where a warrant can't be obtained through normal process.

I believe it is a tool for the prosecutor rather than a legal requirement to bring charges which might , otherwise, be summarily dismissed by a judge who doesn't see the merit.

Often complex prosecutions of a technical nature (Stock manipulation, etc.) are begun with Grand Jury Indictments.

"The grand jury came with the colonists from England. Its origin was more than eight centuries ago. The right to indictment by grand jury is guaranteed as a fundamental right by the Constitution of The United States of America.

The grand jury plays an important part in the administration of criminal justice. The grand jury protects the people from possible abuse of power. No person may be prosecuted for a serious crime unless the State satisfies an independent body of citizens that there is probable cause to do so.

The grand jury is both a shield and a sword of justice-a shield to protect the innocent and a sword to prosecute the guilty. The grand jury is an arm of the court answerable to no one except the court for the proper performance of its important powers."

Here is a really good link.........................http://www.answers.com/topic/grand-jury
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To the best of my knowledge, a grand jury indictment is required only to try capital cases, in the State of Florida. In all other cases, the prosecutor has the option of seeking an indictment from the grand jury or filing an information with the circuit court requesting a trial.

Except in capital cases, which have to be brought before the grand jury for a true bill, prosecutors very often utilize the grand jury to give themselves political cover in cases involving important personages and controversial circumstances.
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