How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Zoey_ JD Your Own Question
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27078
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Type Your Criminal Law Question Here...
Zoey_ JD is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

A friend was arrested in April of 2011 and is waiting to see

Resolved Question:

A friend was arrested in April of 2011 and is waiting to see if the grand jury is going to indict her. How long does she have to wait.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.
Hi Jacustomer,

This question has to do with a defendant's Constitutional right to a speedy trial. A case cannot pend indefinitely with nothing happening to it. Unfortunately, the state of Texas does not specifically provide an actual time frame for the voting of an indictment after which a criminal matter must be dismissed on Speedy Trial grounds. It holds that trial must take place "within a reasonable time" and it uses the balancing test that the US Supreme Court set down in Barker v. Wingo to determine when the delay is unreasonable. This test analyzes: 1) the length of the delay, 2) the reasons for the delay, 3) the defendant's assertion of his rights to a speedy trial and 4) the prejudice to the defendant resulting from the delay.

You can get an analysis of how this works in the state of Texas by looking over a couple of Speedy Trial rulings. Here's one. The facts are not like yours, but you can get to see the process courts use to determine whether a case should just be tossed because the state appears to be unable to go forward.

Sometimes, a case isn't indicted deliberately, because a defense lawyer has asked for the indictment to be held off so that he could work out a favorable pre-indictment plea. Before bothering to present a case to a grand jury, the DA is usually a little more generous than afterwards. But when your friend's lawyer thinks enough is enough and has become unreasonable, the lawyer can file a motion for a speedy trial dismissal. Still, as you can see, it's not the delay alone that matters. It's the reason for the delay as well as whether a defendant is prejudiced by that delay. This area of the law is fairly complicated as each case is different in terms of its own facts.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
My friend is in a half-way house in Jacksonville, TX. I think the charge was clearly false. She was sitting outside wal-mart and a woman next to her walked away asking her to watch her cart. wal-mart security arrested her for stealing the stuff in the cart, which the woman who walked away had. How often to grand juries in Texas meet:? We have been waiting for the next time they meet to see if they indict.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.
Hi Jacustomer,

My experience has been that unless there was a lot of value in that cart, if your friend has no prior felonies, the DA is likely not to indict at all.

However in answer to your question, your friend should have a lawyer who was appointed for her. That lawyer would be able to let her know what the odds of indictment are and what's causing the delay.

Every jurisdiction within every state can have different schedules for how often the grand jury meets depending upon the volume of crime for that jurisdiction. In mine, for example, there are several grand jury panels going on at once and they meet every day. In other areas, they meet every 6 months. If your friend doesn't have a lawyer for her yet that she can call the DA's Office in the jurisdiction where she has been charged and just ask the person who picks up a phone how often and when the Grand Jury sits, She would not (should not) have to identify herself and she does not have to talk to a prosecutor. A clerk will know.

The botXXXXX XXXXXne answer, however, is that the DA can take as long as is reasonable. As your friend is at liberty, delay is ususally good for the defense. The longer it takes, the fuzzier the memories of the state's witnesses.

Zoey_ JD and 5 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you