Unheard Voices

Pathways to Offense Charging: Examining Defense Decision-Making During Case Processing

Summary

This study examined factors influencing defendants’ decisions to waive grand jury proceedings in favor of preliminary hearings, and how charging mechanism (grand jury vs information) affects case dismissals, deferred adjudication, and convictions. Results show race, sex, age, offense severity/type predict waiving grand jury rights. Charging mechanism also significantly predicted all case outcomes.

Key Takeaways

  • Black, Latinx, Asian, male, and less severe offense defendants were less likely to waive grand jury rights.
  • Charging by information reduced dismissal odds but increased deferred adjudication and conviction odds.
  • Race disparities existed for dismissals, deferred adjudication, and convictions.
  • Findings indicate defense attorneys strategically navigate charging processes and highlight consequences of charging mechanisms.