Grand Jury Indictment – What Does Indictment Mean
An indictment is a formal accusation issued by a grand jury. Most of the time an indictment is issued for a felony charge, although it can also be issued for a misdemeanor instead of a complaint. It is based on several things; a proposed charge, a witnesses’ testimony or certain other pieces of evidence presented by the prosecutor. Because it is a product of sworn testimony, it carries significant weight. An indictment is not a determination of guilt; it simply establishes the prima facie or probable cause necessary to proceed with the case. In other words, there is enough evidence against the defendant to take the case to trial. There are two types of indictments; you may be arrested first and then indicted, or it could be a sealed indictment. In the case of the latter, the indictment becomes unsealed after a warrant for your arrest is issued.
After an indictment has been issued, you will be arraigned. An arraignment is a hearing in front of the judge that informs you of the charges against you. At that point, you have a choice to either make a plea bargain with the prosecutor or continue on with the trial. A bond may or may not be issued at this point. A plea bargain takes place during a pre-trial conference. That is when you and your attorney meet with the prosecution and negotiate. Depending on how solid the case against you is, it may be best to enter a guilty plea in exchange for a reduced charge. Your lawyer will advise you on the best course of action. If you decide to go to trial, legal motions and court hearings follow the arraignment.
An indictment prevents overzealous prosecutors from bringing baseless charges against you. Although there is a legal definition of probable cause, there is still debate as to what it actually entails. It basically boils down to determining whether it is reasonable to charge a person with a crime. If the evidence is weak or improperly obtained and the jury does not return an indictment, your case gets dropped. That is why it is important to hire an attorney right away so that we can begin fighting for you before you are even officially charged. By negating the validity of any evidence the prosecutor presents to the jury, they may determine there is not enough of a case to proceed forward. And without this officially charging document, there is no case.
The attorneys at Legalquest Network Team provide legal assistance in the cities of Detroit, Dearborn, Southfield, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Sterling Heights.