A prosecutor will determine whether to pursue a grand jury indictment based on the information that federal investigators bring them. In many cases, the prosecutor leading your case will be actively involved in the investigation, and reviewing the details of the investigation may be something of a formality—though in some cases, the prosecutor may have a difficult decision to make.
This post-investigation stage is the charging stage of the federal court process. If the prosecutor in your case seeks an indictment, they will present the facts of your case to a grand jury. During this argument, the prosecutor will also explain which violations of the federal criminal code you stand accused of, and will argue why the grand jury should indict you on those charges.
What Do Federal Prosecutors in New Jersey Consider When Weighing an Indictment?
When law enforcement officials present their case to the prosecutor, the prosecutor may either:
- Accept their evidence as worthy of an indictment, and proceed to the grand jury stage, or:
- Tell investigators that they do not believe there is sufficient evidence to make the case against the suspect, at which time investigators may continue with their investigation (or may drop the investigation if the statute of limitations has expired or they have exhausted their investigative tactics)
Once a prosecutor makes their case for an indictment, a grand jury will make the next move. Based on witness testimony, evidence, and the prosecutor's general argument, the grand jury will vote about whether to charge you with a crime (or not).
Per the Supreme Court, federal prosecutors must obtain a grand jury indictment to try any federal felony case, including one in New Jersey.
What Does a Grand Jury Consider When Deciding Whether to Indict a Suspect in New Jersey?
The threshold for a grand jury indictment is lower than a conviction. Rather than determining whether you have committed the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, a grand jury may indict you if it decides you could have committed it.
The grand jury process is undeniably skewed in the prosecution's favor. Your attorney will not be present to explain why you shouldn't face criminal charges. Your lawyer will only have influence if, and after, a grand jury agrees to levy criminal charges against you.
Per the U.S. Department of Justice's Justice Manual (JM) § 9-11.101, a grand jury can return a “no-bill” judgment if it does not believe you should face a criminal indictment in New Jersey.
If You Receive Notice of an Indictment in New Jersey's Federal District Court, Now Is the Time to Hire an Attorney
An indictment is the green light for federal prosecutors to seek a conviction against you. It is imperative that you have an attorney begin building your defense right now.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento handles every step of the New Jersey criminal justice process, including federal cases. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online about your federal case.