What does the Grand Jury Do?
The Grand Jury hears criminal cases brought by law enforcement agencies such as the Gadsden Police Department, the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department, the Alabama State Troopers, the Alabama Bureau of Investigations, and the police departments from other municipalities across Etowah County. The panel does not decide guilt or innocence. They hear a small portion of each case to determine if there is probable cause for an indictment or formal legal charge. If the Grand Jury finds the probable cause, a “true bill” is issued, if they do not find sufficient evidence at that time, the Grand Jury issues a “no bill”.
How does a case come before the Grand Jury?
After a defendant is arrested and has been bound over through District Court, the case is presented to Grand Jury for consideration. Cases can also come to Grand Jury as a part of a direct investigation from a law enforcement agency, without an arrest warrant being issued.
What a “True Bill” or Indictment, means
At the end of each week of service, the Grand Jury issues indictments, or true bills, on all cases for which they have found probable cause exists.
What a “No Bill” means
For those cases where the Grand Jury does not find probable cause, the panel issues no bills.
Grand Jury proceedings are a secret and confidential
The work of the Grand Jury is done in secret, to protect the innocent who may be accused, to encourage witness to speak freely and truthfully without fear, and prevent those persons who have committed criminal acts or whose indictment may have contemplated from fleeing from the due administration of Justice. Discussing anything about Grand Jury proceedings before that information is filed with the Circuit Clerk’s Office is a criminal offense.