Indictments in criminal cases are a process by which the grand jury determines whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute an individual(s) for a crime. An indictment by a grand jury is conducted whenever someone is accused of a crime that is usually a felony.
For the most part, the typical procedure begins with the prosecution formally accusing an individual of felony by filing a written complaint. Following this, a preliminary hearing is conducted where the judge deliberates whether there is indeed probable cause to accuse the defendant of a crime. This is followed by the submission of a list of charges by the prosecution.
If it is a federal case then felony prosecution cannot proceed without an indictment. The only exception happens when the defendant waives the indictment. Prolific and reliable criminal defense legal professionals explain that a defendant usually refuses indictment when a plea bargain is formalized between the prosecution and the defense.
If you watch a brilliant show called The Good Wife you can see some of this take place. Just do not make the mistake Wendy Scott-Carr made!
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Difference between an indictment and information
In some states all cases that involve a felony need indictments while in some others select felony cases require an indictment. There are also few states that do not require indictments for all felony cases. In those states the prosecutors only need to file ‘information’, which is a document that lists the charges that have been submitted to the court.
Role of a grand jury
Grand jury comprises of a group of ordinary jurors who determine whether there is substantial evidence to subject the case to a trial. They listen to witness testimonials, analyze evidence, and have the power to subpoena both. If they find there is substantial evidence they issue a True Bill. Traditionally, the jury consisted of 23 members and a majority vote decides whether a case can go to trial or not.
Proceedings are secret
Deliberations by a grand jury do not happen in public. The jury hears the prosecution as well as the testimonials from witnesses and also evaluates evidence which can be inadmissible in a trial. For example, a statement that is clearly a Miranda violation or evidence uncovered in a search that was conducted illegally is taken into account by a grand jury.
Does the grand jury always vote in favor of indictments?
It is true that a majority of felony cases referred to a grand jury go to trial. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes in high profile cases the prosecution submits evidence to a grand jury to determine whether the charges leveled against the defendant are appropriate. There are also instances when the government decides against prosecuting even after the grand jury has given the go ahead for the indictment.
What happens when someone takes the Fifth Amendment
This is also called “pleading the fifth”.
Susan Rice may be doing something like this soon since she committed a crime when she chose to spy on Trump and his team. This has not been proven yet but it does fit her pattern after she lied about what caused the Benghazi attacks. Lois Lerner plead the fifth too when she abused her power when she worked for the IRS. The prosecution that worked on these cases did not make the mistake Wendy Scott-Carr did in The Good Wife.
Subpoenaed individuals often refuse to testify because it may incriminate them as just briefly stated. They choose to stay silent on the stand under the Fifth Amendment. Often prosecutors grant immunity to get the person to testify.
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If you are charged with any type of crime, what you need by your side is a Panama City, Florida criminal defense lawyer. Remember, there is a time limit within which a criminal offense can be contested so there is no point in waiting too long if you want the best possible outcome.
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We know you are stressed out. Just because a prosecutor is aiming for you does not mean they are right and does not mean you cannot mitigate these charges. Let’s get on this today. There is no rest for the weary!