The Grand Jury is composed of regular citizens who are at least 18 years old, able to understand and speak the English langauge, have no felony convictions and have not been on a jury in the previous twelve (12) months. Twelve grand jurors serve on a case. The grand jury determines whether to formally charge a person in circuit court with a felony offense. The grand jury determines whether a person should be required to stand indicted. The grand jury foreman is responsible for swearing in all witnesses. A circuit judge presides over the grand jury proceedings. The prosecutor is allowed at the hearing and the prosecutor questions the witnesses. After all evidence is presented, the grand jurors deliberate and determine whether to indict or not. Nine of the twelve (12) grand jurors must agree to return an indictment. The proceedings are not open to the public. The grand jurors deliberate in secret and if they do not indict they must issue a written no indictment paper which is called a no true bill. In Kentucky the grand jury can indict when “they have sufficient evidence”. Whatever that means. The sufficient evidence standard is set forth under the Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure RCr. 510. This basically means the grand jury can indict you if there is a rumor that you committed a felony in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. If you are a target of the grand jury you cannot testify before the grand jury without the consent of the grand jury. To testify you must notify the Commonwealth’s Attorney in writing of your desire to testify. RCr 3.10 provides the defendant can propose “to present evidence”. I have sent the prosecutor a picture, or diagram, or affidavit about a pending grand jury investigation in hopes that the exculpatory evidence will keep my client from getting indicted. This can be effective. Defense attorneys are not permitted in the grand jury hearing. This means if you, as a defendant, decide to testify before the grand jury you will not have your lawyer present when being questioned. The grand jury hearing must be recorded and a failure to record the hearing is grounds for dismissal under RCr. 5.16.
In Kentucky ,the grand jury has sixty days from the date of your preliminary hearing to indict you if you are in custody .So if you are in jail awaiting a grand jury hearing you should count the days from the date of your last court appearance, which was the preliminary hearing. If you waived the preliminary the 60 day rule still applies. If the grand jury has not indicted you before the 61st day you must motion the circuit court judge for a release based on a violation of the sixty day rule under RCr. 5.24 .
Once you recognize that a grand jury hearing is scheduled to investigate you, it is important to retain a criminal defense lawyer. Do not hire a lawyer who is only experienced to handle speeding tickets, DUIs or shoplifting cases. Grand jury investigations require the skill of an experienced trial lawyer. You must track the schedule of the grand jury. You may or may not be notified of the date of the grand jury hearing. I know the grand jury clerks and the grand jury prosecutor and can discover the date of your hearing. It is important to be aware of the grand jury hearing date because if you are indicted an arrest warrant may be issued. I can help keep you out of jail before that arrest warrant is executed. In other words, once you are indicted I need to get you in front of a circuit court judge before the police find you.