In its August 2021 Term, the Grand Jury of Cullman County issued the largest number of indictments in our county’s history. The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected all our lives and has created a substantial backlog in the court system. This grand jury was able to hear evidence and make decisions on a large number of cases that would have been presented earlier but for the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Felony and misdemeanor indictments were issued in 368 cases. Several individuals have multiple cases, and many cases include multiple counts. There is a total number of 1,031 counts. Here is a breakdown of the number of counts for each category of crime:
Capital Murder: 1
Sex Offenses: 103
Child Abuse: 5
Other Harm to Persons: 47
Damage to Property: 72
Potential members of the grand jury are selected from our county’s driver’s license list. Once an individual is selected and sworn in as a member of the grand jury, they have three primary duties: (1) inquire into indictable criminal offenses committed in or that can be tried in Cullman County, (2) inquire into any alleged misconduct or incompetency of any public officer in Cullman County, and (3) inquire and inspect the county jail and juvenile detention facilities to ensure that they are in sufficient condition. The grand jury has the power to investigate indictable crimes and decide whether there is enough probable cause to issue an indictment. Once an indictment is issued, the circuit court, which handles all felony jury trials, acquires jurisdiction of the case. The functions and powers of the grand jury end when the circuit court receives the indictment. All matters presented and investigated by the grand jury are to remain a secret, and each member is required to keep those matters confidential.
As these cases move further through the court system, our office will continue to seek justice by making the tough decisions to resolve these cases either through jury trials or plea bargains that include imprisonment, placement in the Community Corrections Program, or placement on probation. Every case is different, and many factors go into making these decisions, such as the: vulnerability of the victim, wishes of the victim and their family, amount of restitution owed and payable to the victim, the willingness of the victim to testify, credibility of the victim and other witnesses, the seriousness of the offense, accused’s prior history, recommendations of law enforcement, sentencing guidelines for property and drug crimes, strengths or weakness of critical
evidence, and other circumstances.
Our office will prosecute each case through a jury trial when justice requires; however, not every case can be tried either due to the backlog of the court system or other circumstances. But rest assured, our office will continue to carefully consider these factors in our pursuant of justice while balancing our role as good stewards of taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources.
It is a great pleasure to serve as your district attorney. If our office can be of any assistance, please feel free to call us at (256) 736-2800.
**The law requires prosecutors to make the following disclosure: Members of the public should keep in mind that indictments contain only allegations against the individual against whom the indictment is sought. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it will be the State’s burden at trial to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the allegations contained in the indictment.