Because grand juries meet more or less secretly, a lot of misinformation about them floats around in the popular culture. TV cop and lawyer shows haven’t helped. If you’re suspected of a serious crime in Nevada, your case may or may not come before a grand jury. It depends. Virtually all federal cases begin with a grand jury indictment, but in Nevada’s state courts, most cases do not involve a grand jury at all. Nevada prosecutors occasionally seek grand jury indictments in particularly serious, controversial, and high profile cases, but if you’re accused of a felony under Nevada state law, it’s highly unlikely that your case will go before a grand jury. You’ll face a “regular” criminal proceeding, and you’ll need the help of an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney.
Grand jury proceedings are secret hearings that can take place at the beginning of a criminal case in Nevada. During a grand jury proceeding, a prosecutor presents evidence of an alleged crime to a pool of 16 to 20 jurors. Unlike trial juries which determine guilt or innocence, grand juries only determine if adequate evidence exists to charge the accused suspect with the crime. If the grand jurors believe the evidence is sufficient, the defendant will be indicted (that is, charged) for the crime. The trial jury will not have the same group of people that were present during the grand jury. Trial juries only have people who have not heard the details of your case yet, so therefore those on a grand jury would be excluded. If you become a defendant in a grand jury proceeding, you’ll be allowed to testify, but you should probably exercise your Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself. A grand jury is a tool for prosecutors; defense counsel isn’t even allowed into the hearing room, so you could end up saying something incriminating that could be used against you later in a criminal trial.
Prosecutors in Nevada sometimes seek a grand jury’s help in controversial and high profile cases that are being closely watched by the public. Most defendants in Nevada don’t have to worry about a grand jury, but if you’re charged with a crime in this state, you’ll have plenty of other concerns. Las Vegas is a tolerant and diverse city, but Nevada courts have little tolerance for serious crime. If you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony anywhere in or near Las Vegas, get the legal help you need and consult with an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Why Are So Many Innocent People Convicted?
Even with the process of having a grand jury and trial jury, innocent people can still be convicted in the state of Nevada. For a moment, let’s say that you’re arrested for a serious crime in Las Vegas – a bank robbery – but you know that you’re innocent. You weren’t even near the bank when it was robbed. You can’t be convicted, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, innocent people are still convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, and it happens more frequently than you might think. No assurance can ever be made regarding the outcome of any particular criminal case, but if you’re charged with a crime in the Las Vegas area – and if you know that you’re innocent – contact an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.
Wrongful convictions happen for a number of reasons – false or coerced confessions and corrupted lab evidence, for example – but overwhelmingly, the leading reason for wrongful convictions is eyewitness misidentification. The Innocence Project, a non-profit dedicated to clearing people who were wrongly convicted, reports that 72 percent of the people wrongly convicted of serious crimes but subsequently exonerated were convicted on the basis of eyewitness misidentification. Unreliable informant testimony is the number two reason for wrongful convictions according to the Innocence Project. The Innocence Project also insists that race and class are sometimes elements in wrongful conviction scenarios.
Sometimes, law enforcement officers can take something that you posted online, misconstrue it and use it against you. As a criminal investigation proceeds, detectives and investigators use social media to confirm links between suspects, verify or deny alibis, and uncover statements, pictures, and videos that implicate suspects. Everyone needs to understand that nothing posted online is ever really private – even though you have so-called “privacy” settings – and nothing that you delete is ever really deleted. It’s all recorded somewhere.
When this poor evidence is presented to a grand jury, they can advise a prosecutor to file charges against you based on untrue facts and testimonies.
Yes, the legal system is designed to punish the guilty and acquit the innocent. But the legal system is just people, and as you’ve noticed, people are nowhere near perfect. Cops make mistakes, crimes often go unsolved, and innocent people like you are sometimes wrongly convicted. If you’re charged with a crime in the Las Vegas area – whether you’re guilty or innocent – exercise your right to remain silent and insist on your right to have an attorney.
Then get the legal help you are very much going to need and contact an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible. Always be candid and frank with your defense attorney. The important thing is following your attorney’s advice and thoughtfully considering his or her recommendations. Lawyer-client confidentiality covers all of your communications with your defense lawyer, so if your lawyer asks for the whole story, you can tell it without fear. However, be certain that what you say to your lawyer is actually the truth, because if you mislead your attorney and have to change your story later, it makes defending you effectively much more difficult.
For anyone charged with a crime in the United States, your right to have an attorney is a basic, constitutional right. If you’re interrogated or arrested, insist on your right to have an attorney present during any questioning. Make sure that your rights are protected and that your side of the story is heard. If you are facing a criminal charge in the Las Vegas area, speak with an advocate – an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer – as quickly as possible.