The grand jury considering the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has been granted an extension, giving them at least until early January to decide how to proceed.
The St. Louis County grand jury has been evaluating evidence since late August, and though they were originally slated to reach a decision in mid-October, they have been granted more time. The Washington Post reports that this is the second time the grand jury has been granted more time to decide what, if any, charges are appropriate for Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown multiple times.
May Decide Before Deadline
The grand jury's extension reaching to 2015 doesn't mean that jurors will necessarily take until January to come to a decision. Rather, the extra grant of time may be to ensure that the jurors hear all the evidence.
The Post reports that St. Louis County prosecutors are presenting evidence to the grand jury as it becomes available in the investigation, as opposed to waiting for the investigation to conclude before starting the grand jury process.
In fact, it wasn't until Wednesday that the grand jury was able to hear testimony from Officer Darren Wilson himself, who testified for five hours that day, reports CNN. It's likely that prosecutors have many, many questions for the officer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager, so the grand jury may not be reaching a decision anytime soon.
To Reach an Indictment
In order for the grand jury to decide to indict Wilson, they need at least a three-fourths majority -- nine of the 12 grand jurors. Those nine jurors need to believe that there is probable cause to support charges against Wilson, whether that charge is murder, manslaughter, or a related firearm offense.
No Indictment Is Also Possible
The grand jury could also deliberate until January and decide not to indict Wilson for Brown's fatal shooting. The Post reports that many are skeptical that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch will bring the grand jury to indict Wilson since he has failed to get grand jury indictments in at least four other police shooting cases. Even if the grand jury doesn't indict, prosecutors can regroup and present the case a second time to a grand jury.
For now, the extension until January makes Wilson's potential indictment a somewhat far-off event.
- Grand Jury Process Raises Questions About a Ferguson Indictment (TIME)
- Ferguson Grand Jury: 3 Legal Facts to Keep in Mind (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Following Ferguson: 5 Legal Questions Answered (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Reporter's Arrest in Ferguson Raises Legal Questions (FindLaw's Blotter)