Federal crimes are charged by indictment. Indictments are handed down by a grand jury. The process by which the prosecutor tries to obtain an indictment is called a grand jury investigation.
A grand jury is a panel of citizens taken from the area that makes up the jurisdiction of the court. Many times, after the panel of jurors is selected, they meet once a month for one year. In some jurisdictions they serve for one week and then they are excused. The job of the jurors is to decide if a person should be officially charged with a crime.
When the federal prosecutors want to charge someone with a crime, they present evidence to the grand jury. This evidence can be in the form of testimony or exhibits. It is similar to the presentation of a trial. During this time, the prosecutor tries to convince the jurors that there is probable cause that the person committed a crime.
After the prosecutor presents the evidence to the grand jury, the jurors vote to decide whether or not there is probable cause that the person committed a crime. If they decide that there is probable cause they vote to indict. If not then an indictment is not issued.
Posted in: White Collar Crimes