Using Self-Defense Facts To Stop Prosecution At The Grand Jury
When a criminal lawyer is able to develop a good self-defense case in a felony assault or murder case he or she should consider trying to persuade the Grand Jury to return a No Bill and end prosecution. ( A No Bill means the grand jury does not indict the case) The critical decision is whether the criminal lawyer is comfortable revealing the self-defense evidence to the prosecution.
If the evidence is solid. If the criminal attorney’s investigation shows that the defendant’s actions or response to aggression could be considered reasonable, then the criminal lawyer should try and stop the case at the grand jury. There is no quicker way to put an end to a prosecution than by a No Bill by the grand jury.
The first step in successfully obtaining a No Bill is having a good relationship with the prosecuting attorney. The criminal attorney must trust the prosecutor because he may be revealing information about the state’s complaining witness that the prosecutor has no knowledge of. The prosecutor must also trust the criminal attorney. Prosecutors are always suspicious of information coming from the defense, but a smart prosecutor should realize that it is better to know all the bad facts before going forward with the prosecution.
The criminal attorney must convince the prosecutor that the self defense case is strong and that if an indictment is returned then there is a certainty that the case will be tried before a jury. No prosecutor wants to lose a murder case in a jury trial. It is important to win the prosecutor over to your side because the criminal attorney does not have a right to sit in at the grand jury hearing and question witnesses or present evidence. The grand jury meets in secret. The prosecutor is present during the presentation of evidence and will almost always give their recommendation on whether a case should be Indicted or No Billed. If the prosecutor is against you then the chances of a No Bill from the grand jury are greatly diminished.
The prosecutor must be convinced that the easiest way to dispose the case is at the grand jury. Since the grand jury makes the final decision criticism can be diverted away from the prosecution if the case is No Billed. A case can always be re-presented to a grand jury but that doesn’t happen often.
If the criminal lawyer does not believe the self-defense facts are strong enough to win the prosecutor over to her side or does not trust the prosecutor to do the right thing, then the criminal lawyer shouldn’t attempt a No Bill and save the self-dense facts for presentation at trial.
Obtaining a No Bill from a grand jury in a murder case or felony assault case can happen but it takes extensive preparation of the facts and skillful negotiations with the prosecutor.