Fifth Amendment Indictment of Grand Jury

Topics: Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States Constitution, Due process Pages: 8 (2747 words) Published: July 7, 2013
Fifth Amendment Indictment of Grand Jury
The grand jury originated in England, under the rule of King John. The king selected the grand jury to be a body of his reign that would accuse no innocent person, and would shelter no guilty person. The Fifth Amendment of the United States protects people from self-incrimination by forcing the prosecution to obtain an indictment (complaint) from a grand jury before the case can be presented in trial before a court. Today, grand juries are virtually inexistent with the exception of the United States, which in some cases, still utilizes a grand jury. The Fifth Amendment clause on grand juries does not protect individuals serving in the military because they are considered to be United States property. By federal law, misdemeanors do not require an indictment to be obtained for a trial. Federal law only requires an indictment for felony cases to be presented before a court.

One of the reasons that grand juries are almost inexistent today is that it is so heavily criticized by so many because the defendant is not represented today in the process. In many cases, the defendant can be easily persuaded by the prosecutor to disclose information that can be very useful, and is likely to be used during the final trial. Because the defendant is not represented, rarely will a grand jury decide against the wishes of the prosecution. Disbarred former Chief Judge of New York, Judge Sol Watchler, was once quoted as saying that it is so easy for the prosecutor to persuade the grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” Grand juries are selected by the local prosecutor, and in many occasions jurors have served several times before, and have a proven record to indict. No states have a regulation that will limit the number of grand juries that the prosecutor can assemble before finally getting the indictment he or she wants. Unfortunately, if an indictment is not acquired the first time, the prosecutor can form as many juries as necessary, to get an indictment. This issue became apparent when Texas prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, formed three grand juries before he could get Senator Tom Delay indicted on criminal charges, that he had violated campaign finance laws. Delay denied the charges, but was forced by the Republican Party to temporarily resign from his position as majority leader.

To compensate for some of the deficiencies related to grand juries, many jurisdictions in the United States have replaced grand juries with a procedure in which the prosecutor can issue charges by filing an information (an accusation). Following the filing of an information by the prosecutor, a preliminary trial is held before a judge in whom the defendant can have his counsel present.

Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy

Double jeopardy covers many types of crimes. The definition of double jeopardy can be found in the Fifth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. Actually, double jeopardy has a few definitions. Double jeopardy stems off from the fact that no one would be held to answer capital or infamous crime, or on presentment, or most notably, indictment of grand jury. Double jeopardy projects a person against multiple punishments charged for the same crime. For example, double jeopardy protects an individual who is charged for murder of another individual, went to court and was found innocent, that person could not be charged again for that same murder charge of that other person at a later time. The same thing applies for robbery, assault, and so forth. The term “jeopardy” means “danger” inflicted on any individual. What this means, is that once the jury is sworn in, and after hearing all of the evidence produced at trial, the jury will decide if the person accused is either not guilty or guilty, that is the final decision. At a later time, if the same charges are brought up again, it won’t go to trial because of the double jeopardy law. The term “double jeopardy” means “danger” of...

References: (Cont.) Retrieved from on August 18, 2007. Retrieved from on August 18, 2007. Retrieved from on August 22, 2007.
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