Pennsylvania grand juries exercise a lot of influence. Their purpose is to investigate possible crimes and return their opinion on whether the evidence shows that a crime may have happened. While a grand jury does not find anyone guilty, they conclude whether it’s likely that a crime took place. As a result, they often lead to criminal charges being formally filed. This is where someone’s situation gets very tough.

What happens after an indictment? Well, if you don’t treat it seriously from day one, an indictment in or around Chester County, Pennsylvania, can change your life. So, speak with an attorney right away.

The Skinner Law Firm has represented many Chester County residents who’ve found themselves indicted. Call our office today at (610) 436-1410 to set up a free and confidential consultation. We’ll explain your options and next steps.

Criminal Charges Are Formalized & Evidence Is Made Available

It’s important to know that a grand jury does not determine guilt. The grand jury does not even file formal criminal charges. Instead, they have the power to investigate the evidence.

The grand jury will determine if it’s possible that a crime occurred. From there, the members will offer their opinion, which may be used to support a formal criminal charge against you.

It’s ideal to speak to your lawyer before the grand jury process. This will allow for your lawyer to study the evidence against you at an early phase. The evidence gathered at a grand jury will be available to the prosecutor afterward. This can include many things, such as:

  • Witness statements – Eyewitness statements can be reviewed by the grand jury. The grand jury is free to make any conclusions from the statements of others.
  • Police reports – The grand jury may want to know what police have to say. The police will be encouraged to discuss the incident that may result in criminal charges.
  • Your personal history – A grand jury can look into many details about an alleged offender. This is not a formal trial, so the evidence rules are more relaxed.

The Pre-Trial Process Begins

Once you’re indicted in Chester County, the normal Pennsylvania criminal process follows. With formal charges filed, you could be arrested or remain free while the prosecution reviews the evidence and prepares for trial.

Many people are concerned about how their life will be disrupted. This does not only refer to possible jail time. Your privacy will be further impacted as the prosecutor looks for evidence. Fortunately, a knowledgeable defense lawyer will know how to protect your rights.

  • Protect your privacy – Police and investigators must follow certain rules when investigating you and those around you. Your lawyer can make sure they don’t violate your rights.
  • Negotiate your charges – The prosecution might be uncertain about the case against you. A skilled lawyer can convince them to reduce the charges in your case.
  • Demand your case be dropped – Your case should be dropped if your rights have been violated. Experienced defense lawyers understand how to protect their clients’ rights.

Negotiations & Preparing for Your Day in Court

A grand jury indictment often results in a case moving toward a trial. In most cases, your trial date will be scheduled following any necessary hearings or motions to discuss evidence or matters of law.

The trial process can be stressful for everyone, and we understand there’s a lot on the line. Most cases never actually progress to trial, and there will be opportunities for your attorney to discuss a plea agreement, charge reduction, or dismissal based on the circumstances.

While no two cases are the same, it’s always essential to work with a lawyer who can negotiate with the prosecutor, scrutinize evidence, and highlight weaknesses that support your defense strategy.

Indicted in Chester County? The Skinner Law Firm Can Help

Pennsylvania grand juries are often misunderstood. They don’t rule on cases and don’t even file formal criminal charges. But a grand jury indictment is usually immediately followed by the prosecutor filing charges. This means your case is moving forward, so you should act quickly.

It’s never too early to speak with a lawyer. Ideally, you should talk with a lawyer as soon as you learn about a criminal investigation that involves you. This protects you and could help avoid the grand jury or formal charges.

If you have questions or need advice, contact the Skinner Law Firm today. Call (610) 436-1410 or reach out online for a free and confidential consultation.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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