The complexities of a criminal case may overwhelm someone unfamiliar with the system. Here’s a PDF of my pamphlet which explains generally the parts of a trial and the processes leading up to trial. 12916-outside and 12916-inside
A plea of guilty is a frequent outcome for criminal cases. As a part of a sentence, a defendant may be subject to a special set of rules, or conditions of probation. These rules could include a Fourth Amendment Waiver, a requirement to the defendant take drug tests, and/or any number of other conditions that a lot of people have to live with.
In cases where there is a victim, a defendant can be ordered to stay away from that person while the defendant is on probation. Clients sometimes incorrectly believe that if the client and the victim moved to another county, that these conditions won’t apply.
As long as that person is on probation that stay away condition applies. No matter what county or state a person moves to, the Court Order still applies. The defendant could be arrested for a probation violation and/ or be subject to new criminal charges under the proper conditions.
Entering a plea of guilty carries heavy responsibility. These conditions will apply for the entire term of the sentence unless a judge changes the terms.
Clients and family members often express concern when the idea of the Grand Jury is discussed.
The Grand Jury determines who is indicted and who is not indicted. In most cases, an Indictment, or “True Bill,” results from presentation of a case to the Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury determines that a case should not go forward, then the case is “No Billed.”
What does all of this mean?
In Georgia, the Grand Jury consists of 16 to 23 individuals drawn from the pool of people who may serve as jurors. This group meets from time to time based on the need of each individual county.
A case is presented to the Grand Jury by the District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney controls what cases are presented to the Grand Jury. Defendants have no say in presentation and no right to be present (*except for law enforcement officers charged with a crime).
The Grand Jury determines whether enough evidence exists for a case to go forward. The Grand Jury does not decide guilt or acquittal. As such, most cases presented to the Grand Jury become True Bill Indictments.
In cases where the State has little evidence or there is an affirmative defense, lobbying, information sharing, and negotiating with the DA’s office could prevent Indictment and find a resolution without Grand Jury presentation. A lawyer can best advise when these actions will have better results.
Remember, the Grand Jury presentation is but one step in the criminal justice process.
© 2016 Nancee Tomlinson