A federal grand jury for the District of Wyoming met in Casper from May 19th-22nd for a third session in 2020. Thirty-one cases were presented and forty-one people were indicted on crimes ranging from federal firearms offenses, drug trafficking, child exploitation, illegal re-entry of a previously deported alien, carjacking, sexual assault, assault by strangulation, counterfeiting, tax evasion, escape from custody, and assaulting law enforcement officers.
The District of Wyoming convenes a federal grand jury every two months to consider criminal charges contained in proposed indictments for cases that have been investigated by local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement. The grand jury may also investigate possible criminal activity through testimony of witnesses and obtaining records. The grand jury is comprised of 23 citizens from all over Wyoming who serve for a term of up to eighteen months.
The proceedings and deliberations of the grand jury are kept secret as provided by law. The United States Attorney’s Office presents evidence to the members of the grand jury who then deliberate to determine if the accused should stand trial for alleged crimes.
Grand jurors do not decide guilt or innocence, but merely evaluate the evidence to determine whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and that the accused person committed it. If the jury finds the charges should proceed against the accused, it returns what is referred to as a “true bill” approving the proposed indictment. Upon return of an indictment, the accused person is typically arrested, if not already in custody, and brought promptly before a federal judge for arraignment. At this stage, the accused person is advised of the charges and requested to enter a plea of not guilty or guilty. The federal judge will also advise the accused person of his or her rights, and, if necessary, set a trial date.
An indictment is an allegation of violation of federal criminal law, and the accused has the presumption of innocence and the right to a public and speedy trial.