The Grand Jury Section has responsibility for the preparation and presentation of cases for indictment, with subsequent disposition by the Trial Section. The Grand Jury Section also handles Case Intake/Screening, the administration of the Pre-Indictment Program (PIP) and Drug Court proceedings. The Grand Jury Section consists of assistant prosecutors, detectives and clerical/paralegal staff.
All indictable criminal complaints originating in Bergen County are referred by the municipal courts to the Prosecutor’s Office. The complaints undergo a screening process in which they are reviewed by an assistant prosecutor in consultation with a representative of the municipal police department. A decision is made as to whether the case will be handled by the Prosecutor’s Office or returned to the municipal court for disposition.
Most cases that will be prosecuted by this Office are scheduled for PIP Court through the Criminal Case Manager’s Office. At PIP Court, cases may be resolved by a guilty plea or pre-trial intervention admission. Otherwise, if a disposition cannot be agreed upon, the case is forwarded to the Grand Jury for presentation.
A Grand Jury is an independent body consisting of 23 members of the community, with 12 affirmative votes needed in order to return an indictment. Its proceedings are conducted confidentially. An assistant prosecutor will elicit witness testimony before the Grand Jury to establish whether or not there is probable cause for the return of an indictment. Upon hand-up of an indictment by the Grand Jury, the case is transferred to the Trial Section for disposition.
The Drug Court program is a cooperative effort with the Court that endeavors to give prison-eligible defendants an opportunity to avail themselves of drug rehabilitation. This may include rigorous probation with out-patient or long-term in-patient treatment. The assigned assistant prosecutor screens the cases to ensure the defendant meets the legal and residency requirements of the program, works out a plea agreement with the defense attorney and participates in monitoring the participants for compliance with the program.