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Grand Jury Investigative Functions (From Police Function, P 578-609, 1991, Frank W Miller, Robert O Dawson, et al., -- See NCJ-130290)

NCJ Number
F W Miller; R O Dawson; G E Dix; R I Parnas
Date Published
32 pages
The grand jury evaluates evidence supporting possible charges and also has an investigatorial function to develop information that may be of value to determine whether grounds for a charge exist.
The unique advantage that the grand jury has as an investigatorial agency lies in its subpoena power. Unlike the police or the prosecution, the grand jury can compel persons under threat of contempt to appear in court and accurately answer questions. The investigatory role of grand juries developed out of their function to screen charges. Although the government often presented a proposed criminal charge to the grand jury for its consideration, it is clear that grand juries have been traditionally free to act on their own knowledge and to return charges based on this sort of information. The grand jury typically has the authority to call into operation the subpoena power of the court which called the grand jury into existence. In theory, the grand jury decides whether to seek to subpoena witnesses, and the court determines whether to issue the subpoena. In practice, however, the situation may be much different. Perhaps the major issue in structuring grand jury investigation tools is the extent to which some characteristics of the body render it less susceptible to abuse than other law enforcement entities. The analysis of grand jury investigative functions considers the subpoena power in detail as well as questioning and the privilege against compelled self-incrimination. Case materials are included.


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