Switch to ADA Accessible Website
Orlando Criminal Lawyer

How Do Grand Juries Work In Florida?


There are two legal mechanisms by which a person can be charged with a crime in Florida: information or indictment. An information is a charging document issued by a prosecutor, i.e., a Florida State Attorney. An indictment, on the other hand, is issued by a legal body known as the grand jury.

A grand jury is not the same thing as a trial jury. A trial jury decides a defendant’s guilt or innocence with respect to a charged offense. And guilt requires proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The grand jury, in contrast, only decides if there is “probable cause” to hold the defendant for trial. In most cases, the State Attorney decides whether to initiate a case by filing an information or seeking an indictment from a grand jury. Indictment is only required in capital (death penalty) cases.

Your Rights Before a Grand Jury

Grand juries are composed of 15 to 21 persons. In Florida, they typically sit intermittently for a five- or six-month term. Unlike a trial jury, which must be unanimous, only 12 grand jurors need to agree to an indictment. Grand juries can also investigate and report allegations of official misconduct without issuing formal indictments.

Perhaps the most notable feature of a grand jury is its secrecy. While criminal trials are usually conducted in public, everything about a grand jury’s proceedings is done behind closed doors. No media coverage is allowed, and grand jurors are prohibited by law from discussing the “nature and substance” of their deliberations or vote. Witness testimony before a grand jury is also kept secret, except in certain narrowly defined circumstances.

As the potential target of a grand jury, you also have much more limited rights than you do when on trial. You do have the right to appear before a grand jury and testify in your own defense. But if you are subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, anything you say cannot be used against you at trial.

Critically, you do not have the right to present other evidence to the grand jury. Nor can you (or your attorney) cross-examine any witnesses who testify before the grand jury. In practice, the grand jury is run by the State Attorney. And in many cases, you may be indicted before you are placed under arrest or even made aware of an investigation.

Conversely, if you are charged by information rather than indictment, you do have the right to ask for a preliminary hearing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence against you. The goal of the preliminary hearing is the same as a grand jury indictment–to determine if there is probable cause to detain you for trial. But a preliminary hearing is held before a judge and you have the right to be present and cross-examine any of the prosecution’s witnesses who testify.

Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Jose Baez Today

If you are facing indictment or information and need representation from a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney, contact the Baez Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Miami Office

1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1410
Miami, FL 33131
Office: 305-999-5100
Fax: 305-999-5111

Orlando Office

250 N Orange Ave, Suite 750
Orlando, FL 32801
Office: 407-705-2626
Fax: 407-705-2625

Email Us

Fields Marked * Are required

DISCLAIMER: Completing and submitting this form or otherwise merely contacting The Baez Law Firm or any individual at the firm will not establish an attorney/client relationship. Our firm cannot represent you until we determine that there would be no conflict of interest and that we are otherwise able to accept representation of your case. Please do not send any information or documents until a formal attorney/client relationship has been established through an interview with an attorney and you have been given authorization in the form of an engagement letter with The Baez Law Firm. Any information or documents sent via this form or otherwise prior to your receipt of an engagement letter will not be treated as confidences, secrets, or protected information of any nature. Submitting information regarding your potential case will not bar The Baez Law Firm from representing or continuing to represent a person or entity whose interest are adverse to your in condition with your case.

protected by reCAPTCHA Privacy - Terms
Please review the highlighted fields. They are required.
DISCLAIMER: This website contains information about The Baez Law Firm that includes testimonial statements from persons who are familiar with the firm's services. The testimonials shown are not necessarily representative of every person's experience with us. Testimonials from every client are not provided. As no two situations or persons are identical, the facts and circumstances of your situation may differ from those for which testimonials are shown. This website also includes information about some of the past results that we have obtained for our clients. Not all results are provided, and the results shown are not necessarily representative of all results obtained by us. No two situation are exactly alike; every person's situation is unique and the outcome for each person depends on the individual facts.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2015 - 2024 Baez Law Firm. All rights reserved.
This law firm website and legal marketing are managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab Contact Form Tab