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CC
12-04-2014, 03:08 PM
When a grand jury deliberates to determine if there is enough evidence to bring a case to trial, are they bound by the specifics of the charges? For example, in the Brown case, were they forced to consider whether there was enough evidence to try Wilson for, say, manslaughter, or could they have returned an indictment for some other infraction? Could they have said, in effect, we don't know what the crime is but there was some wrongdoing and we think it should go to trial?

Kent Clark
12-04-2014, 04:52 PM
The grand jury has to indict for something, not just "he must have done something, so put him in front of a judge." In Brown's specific case, the grand jury was given information on four different charges: first or second-degree murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In the Eric Garner case, the grand jury was reportedly given information on second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, felony assault and reckless endangerment.

Bricker
12-04-2014, 05:51 PM
When a grand jury deliberates to determine if there is enough evidence to bring a case to trial, are they bound by the specifics of the charges? For example, in the Brown case, were they forced to consider whether there was enough evidence to try Wilson for, say, manslaughter, or could they have returned an indictment for some other infraction? Could they have said, in effect, we don't know what the crime is but there was some wrongdoing and we think it should go to trial?

No. An indictment must specify the exact charge.

So far as I know, no legal barrier exists for the grand jury to indict on a charge that the prosecutor does not offer them, but there's a practical barrier: they may not know what other charges are available.

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