For the first time since 1973, District Attorney’s throughout Pennsylvania may now use Indicting Grand Juries in lieu of Preliminary Hearings to charge a criminal Defendant with a crime. The law in Pennsylvania used to be that everyone charged with a misdemeanor or felony charge was entitled to a Preliminary Hearing where they could challenge the government’s case before a magistrate judge. Now however, new sections of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure which have been enacted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court permits the government to file criminal charges against an accused through an indicting grand jury. If an accused is indicted by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury, they no longer have a right to a Preliminary Hearing and an opportunity to have their Chester County Criminal Defense Attorney cross-examine witnesses against them. Representing public officials before the Grand Jury
Prior to 1973, an individual accused of a crime was entitled to a preliminary hearing. If a prima facie case was established, the matter was bound over to an indicting grand jury, which would then determine whether a Bill of Indictment should issue. In 1973, the Pennsylvania Constitution was amended to authorize the Courts of Common Pleas to provide for the initiation of criminal proceedings by information thus abolishing the need for an Indicting Grand Jury in Pennsylvania. Recently, however, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court brought back Indicting Grand Juries in certain situations.
In order to proceed by way of indicting grand jury, the Commonwealth must file an ex parte motion under seal with the Court alleging facts sufficient to establish probable cause to believe that witness intimidation has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur and therefore they shouldn’t be forced to prove their case at a Preliminary Hearing. Learn more about Preliminary Hearings here The problem with this standard is that the government can allege anything that they want in these filings about the Defendant and how he might try and intimidate the government’s witnesses.
If you are being investigated by a Pennsylvania Indicting Grand Jury, hire an experienced Chester County Criminal Lawyer immediately.