What the Grand Jury does
The Grand Jury hears criminal cases brought by law enforcement agencies such as the Blount County Sheriff’s Department, the Oneonta Police Department, Snead Police Department, Blountsville Police Department, Alabama State Troopers, Alabama Bureau of Investigation and Alabama Game and Fish. 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.
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 part of a direct investigation from a law enforcement agency, prior to 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 secret and confidential
The work of the Grand Jury is done in secret and is kept secret, to protect the innocent who may be accused, to encourage witnesses to speak freely and truthfully without fear, and to prevent those persons who have committed criminal acts or whose indictment may be contemplated from fleeing from the due administration of justice. Only prosecutors presenting the cases and their witnesses are allowed in the Grand Jury room. Except in very unusual circumstances, defendants do not testify before the Grand Jury. Discussing anything about Grand Jury proceedings before that information is filed with the circuit clerk’s office, is a criminal offense.