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What Happens During a Grand Jury Hearing in Florida?


If you’re approaching a felony charge in Florida, you may encounter the term “Grand Jury” for the first time. What exactly is a “Grand Jury,” and how can it affect your criminal case? The best way to answer this question is to consult with an experienced drug crime lawyer in Fort Myers.

What Is a Grand Jury in Florida?

 Grand Juries issue indictments in Florida. If you are indicted on felony charges in Florida, it means that your criminal trial can move ahead. In many federal cases, Grand Juries conduct a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to move ahead with a trial. A Grand Jury consists of a handful of people who review the evidence laid against you. Unlike a jury trial, a Grand Jury hearing does not determine your guilt. Instead, the Grand Jury merely determines whether there was probable cause to arrest you in the first place.

Are Grand Juries Necessary for Felony Indictments in Florida?

Prosecutors do not necessarily need to obtain a Grand Jury indictment to proceed with a criminal trial. This step is only legally required for capital offenses – usually first-degree murder. However, there are many other capital offenses that may require Grand Jury indictments, including capital drug offenses. Grand Juries may be preferable in cases that are particularly controversial. This is because Grand Juries convene in secret.

Can I Still Challenge Probable Cause Without a Grand Jury? 

If prosecutors decide not to pursue an indictment through a Grand Jury, they can simply charge you “by information” instead. However, you will still have the right to challenge the validity of the evidence laid against you. You always have the right to request a preliminary hearing before your criminal trial. During this hearing, you and your defense lawyer can argue that there was no probable cause for your arrest.

What’s the Difference Between a Grand Jury and a Preliminary Hearing?

 One of the main differences between Grand Juries and preliminary hearings involves secrecy. While a Grand Jury hearing is secret, a preliminary hearing goes on public record like most other court proceedings. In a Grand Jury hearing, you do not have the right to present new evidence to the court. Instead, you can only limit your arguments and strategies to the evidence already entered into the record. In a preliminary hearing, you can cross-examine witnesses, present your own witnesses, and testify in your own defense.

Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Fort Myers 

The concept of a Grand Jury might seem daunting, but it is easier to approach this process alongside an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Myers. With help from Foley & Wilson Law Firm, you can discuss your next steps after a felony arrest. Not only can we help you navigate the Grand Jury hearing, but we can also help you fight your charges in a subsequent trial. Reach out today to get started.




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