What Does Indicted Mean?
In California, there are two ways that felony charges can be brought against an individual. The first is through an information filed by the district attorney. The second is through an indictment brought by a grand jury.
What is an Information?
An information is a formal accusation made by the district attorney against an individual suspected of committing a felony. The accusation must state the facts of the case and the defendant’s name.
To file an information, the district attorney must have probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a crime.
What is an Indictment?
An indictment is a formal charge issued by a grand jury alleging that an individual has committed a crime. For an indictment to be issued, the grand jury must find that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime.
Probable cause is defined as “reasonable grounds for believing that a person has committed or is committing a crime.” If the grand jury finds probable cause, an indictment will be issued, and the defendant will be arraigned. If convicted, the defendant may face imprisonment, fines, or other penalties.
What is a Grand Jury?
A grand jury is a group of people chosen at random from a pool of eligible individuals and tasked with determining whether there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a crime. The defendant is not present at these proceedings, which are closed to the public, and may not even know they’re going on. The grand jury only hears the prosecutor’s side of the case before deliberating in secret.
The grand jury will hear from witnesses, review documents, and weigh the evidence to determine whether or not to indict the person being charged. If the grand jury decides not to indict, no charges will be filed.
The grand jury system has been criticized for being unfair to defendants, as they are not given a chance to defend themselves or present their side of the story. Additionally, grand juries are often seen as rubber stamps for prosecutors, as they only hear one side of the story and are not required to reach a unanimous decision.
When is a Grand Jury Used?
A grand jury is most commonly used for federal offenses. Additionally, grand juries are convened for the following reasons:
- The crime alleged is a serious felony
- There is significant public interest in the case
- The prosecutor wants to “test” out the case before jurors
- The case involves a crime by a public officeholder
- Some of the witnesses are in state prison
It’s important to remember that an indictment is not the same as a conviction—a conviction only comes after a trial at which the jury finds you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So even if you’ve been indicted, there’s still hope for a positive outcome. However, indictment is a serious matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
What To Do If You’ve Been Indicted
Being indicted is a very serious matter. The first thing you should do is contact a criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer will protect your rights and help you navigate the criminal justice system. If you cannot afford a private lawyer, you will be assigned a public defender.
The next thing you should do is prepare for your arraignment. The arraignment is your first appearance in court, and it is where the charges against you will be read aloud and you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. You should speak with your lawyer before this court appearance so you know what to expect and how to best present yourself in court.
After pleading not guilty, the next stage is pretrial discovery. This is where both sides share information about their cases, including police reports, witness statements, and DNA evidence. The aim is to allow each side to know what evidence the other has so they can prepare their case fully. This process can be time-consuming, but it is essential to ensure a fair trial.
After pretrial discovery, your lawyer will use this information to prepare for trial. Both sides will present their case before a judge or jury who will ultimately decide if you are guilty or not guilty of the crime(s) with which you have been charged.
An indictment is a very serious matter, and you should speak with an attorney right away. Contact The Rodriguez Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.
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The Rodriguez Law Group – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
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Last Updated on December 4, 2022