Prosecutors in Morris County have a number of tools at their disposal when they want to charge someone with a crime. Sometimes, depending in part on the nature of the case itself, they may present a case to a grand jury.
One recent case scheduled to go before a grand jury in Morris County involves a Catholic priest who allegedly made death threats against another fellow priest. A dispute between the two reportedly broke out over which of them had the right to use a particular vehicle. The purported victim claims the defendant attacked him with a crucifix-tipped metal staff, stabbing him in the arm and threatening to kill him.
The defendant priest claims that the wound was the result of that priest smashing his own arm into a glass door. Regardless, it required almost 30 stitches, and the defendant was charged with making a terroristic threat.
Allegedly violent crimes like this may be marked to go before a grand jury instead of the usual criminal trial with which Morris County residents are familiar. A grand jury will review evidence — and they have much greater leeway to do so than a traditional jury — and work with the prosecutor to decide whether to indict the defendant on any charges. Grand jury proceedings are confidential, which serves the dual purposes of protecting a defendant’s public reputation and permitting witnesses to testify without fear of retaliation.
The accused priest’s criminal defense attorney has indicated that he will continue discussing options with the prosecutor in an attempt to deal with the charge of terroristic threats separately from the Morris County grand jury hearing, perhaps through a plea negotiation. Fortunately, legal defense professionals also have a variety of strategies like this available to help protect defendants’ interests in any number of situations.