What Is An Indictment – Things To Know When The Grand Jury Has Indicted You

What is an indictment? A defendant cannot go to trial in a sudden. This person must complete all steps as the part of the legal law process. One of the steps to follow is proposing the charges and the indictment in the court.

In the court, the presentation of the indictment is a document. Sometimes, we call it as an arraignment.  Commonly, the indictment will be read in front of a judge at the hearing process. Nevertheless, there is no formal arraignment happens at this time unless the government has arrested and charged the accused legally. In this post, we are going to discuss all the indictment including what is an indictment, the purpose, and others.


What Is An Indictment And Who Issues It

For a defendant, the states or the prosecutors have issued him with a felony. At this point, the state must be able to present the cause to explain that the person has committed the crime. Therefore, the state should serve the evidence to the grand jury without any opposition in the court. After that, the grand jury will decide whether they will release the indictment issue or not.

Since the indictment comes with the low percentage for the burden of evidence, it is reasonable that the indictments exist in 99% of the cases.

What Is An Indictment- The Fifth Amendment

Based on the Fifth Amendment, it states that the only one that can answer the capital or other crime is the Grand Jury. On the other hands, many states have a Grand Jury to charge the federal crime while others are not using them often. We hope that this statement can answer your question about what is an indictment by a Grand Jury.

The Job Of Prosecutors

For the states that do not use the Grand Jury often, they will present complaint of criminal cases to the lower court judge. After that, the magistrate will decide whether the prosecutor has provided the proof to make sure that the suspect has committed for the crime.

Nevertheless, a prosecutor also has an important role when it comes to the indictment. In fact, the prosecutor has the right to seek for the indictment. Prosecutors have the right to make an arrest when they have enough evidence that the suspect has committed for the crime.

For the prosecutors who strongly believed that they have enough evidence to request a felony indictment, they can arrest the suspect. They must have the strong point that the suspect has done the undoubted crime.

It is the job of the prosecutors to look at the case. They will use the police report and the criminal record of the suspect in the past. After that, they also decide the reasonable charges for the suspect. Furthermore, it is possible for prosecutors to file the charges for the crimes the suspect have done. The charges can be less or more severe compared to the police charges. Eventually, prosecutors may not file the charges with some reasonable decisions.

What Is The Purpose Of An Indictment?

So, what is an indictment and what is the goal of this document to present? The goal is to provide information to the defendant for the charges. In addition, this document is important to help the legal counsel prepare the defense.

In some cases, what is an indictment is available in the form of protection. It can protect the suspect because he has the right not to get the prosecution. It happens when the Grand Jury has decided that there is no evidence to charge the suspect.

For the family of the suspect, the indictment is important because it is the process that helps them know and aware of the charges. They will also have the better idea for the things they are going to face in the next process.

What Happens After An Indictment Is Filed

The True Bill Vs. No Bill

States will bring the indictment to the Grand Jury. Nevertheless, the Grand Jury does not work to decide guilt. They are seeing for the probability that the suspect has committed the crime. After that, they can do the trial. When the evidence is enough to do the trial, we call it a true bill. On the other hands, if the evidence is not enough, we call it no bill. If the case goes to the true bill, they will send the case to the court.

The Indictment Hearing-What Is An Indictment Hearing

A trial jury consists of 12 people. Meanwhile, the Grand Jury consists of 23 people. They will process the indictment in a private area, not in a public court. In addition, the defendant does not have any right to attend the process. They will start the indictment hearing from the witnesses and the prosecutors. To save the court time and to avoid telling the evidence directly, the prosecutors will only present the key facts, deliver the probable cause.

It sounds interesting that few states allow the defendant to attend the proceedings. Sometimes, the Grand Jury has no unanimous decision. Therefore, they will bring back the indictment with the simple majority and that is enough. Somehow, the grand jury can be about 16 people. They can reach the decision by having two third votes.

Investigation And Charges

The prosecutors or the states have two options to indict the defendant. First, they can arrest the suspect for a felony crime and after that, they run for the indictment. Second, they indict the suspect without arrest. Here, the Grand Jury is possible to convene and then bring back the decision; we call it the sealed indictment. It means that the suspect did not realize that the prosecutors have investigated his case before. Then, the Grand Jury is ready to listen to the evidence. If the evidence is enough, they will arrest the suspect.

Regarding your question about what is an indictment, after the states have passed the indictment, the next process is reading the charges. It is possible for the Grand Jury to recommends the defendant for the trial. In this step, the suspect knows for the charges and he has enough information for the legal counsel. Here, he should prepare for the defense.

What Is Pre Indictment – Pre Vs. Post Indictment By Grand Jury


After finding some information about ‘what does an indictment, it is also important to know what actually pre-indictment and post-indictment are. The procedure for the indictment is quite strict. We call it the pre-indictment when the prosecutors asked the grand jury to investigate and to determine the charges for the suspect. Other than that, there are several things to know about pre-indictment:

  • The Grand Jury does not necessary to tell the suspect for the investigation they are working in.
  • The Grand Jury is able to operate the process in the complete secrecy. When it comes to the criminal trial, it is about the public record. Therefore, during the investigation, a grand jury may order the witnesses not to tell the public about the existence of the grand jury.
  • Witnesses or suspect has no right to leave their matter to their attorney when they have to meet the prosecutor in a Grand Jury’s room. It is because they have to testify before the Grand Jury. Furthermore, they have no benefits in using legal counsel. Nevertheless, the states allow the witnesses to invite their attorneys to the building. After that, the witnesses have the right to leave the room just to have the consultation with their attorney before answering the questions from the prosecutors.

Post Indictment

At this step, the Grand Jury has decided the charges for suspect due to the crime he caused by. After knowing the charges, the suspect has the right to ask the attorneys to speak with the prosecutors. Additionally, they have a right to know the evidence the government has collected for the case. The process is not the end, yet. The suspect has the responsibility to submit his innocence to the jury.

Things You Must Know When The Grand Jury Has Indicted You

In case that a Grand Jury has indicted you in a felony, you may have many questions in your head. Here are several things to know when you are in this position:

  1. Know What Is An Indictment

In this condition, the Grand Jury that is from 23 juror citizens met in a private room. They listen to the prosecutor with his presentation about your case and your probability of the crime. The Grand Jury has the vote to make sure that you have indicted or not.

  1. Appear In The Court

The Grand Jury found that you have committed the felony. After that, they will call you before judging you whether you plead guilty or not. The process will start and you must do the trial.

  1. Ways Of Indictments

Things you should know other than what is an indictment is the way of indictments. As we have explained already that, the prosecutors may arrest you for the felony and the case is still going. They may also present the case to the Grand Jury. They will notice you after the presentation for the case is complete. In this condition, you have no ways to leave unless providing the right evidence for your innocence.

They may also indict you with no arrest. Besides, they do everything as the secret process and they will return it as the sealed indictment. They investigated you without giving you any notification. After that, the state will issue the arrest warrant.

  1. The Secret Meetings By Grand Jury

They have to work hard to make sure that no one can tell their secret meetings to the public. For any jury who publishes any information based on the discussions, they made during the meetings will get the contempt charges. In fact, their meetings are full of security. No press can record their meetings.

  1. The Selection of the Grand Jurors

There is no formal screening step when it comes to the selection of grand jury members. Additionally, they have been working in that field for several months. For instance, in the case of Michael Brown, they had convened it several months before the case happened in Furgeson MO. They had met for 25 times in the previous cases.

  1. Judge Not Allowed

The leader to process the Grand Jury is a prosecutor. It means that there is no judge here. The prosecutor has the right to instruct the jury for the law matters. They run the process closely, the public does not know their discussions.

  1. The Probable Cause

The prosecutor will present the facts of the case he has investigated and the grand jury will listen to it. From the presentation, the Grand Jury has to make the decision whether there is a “probable cause” so you deserve for the charges or not. The prosecutor must be able to serve the strong evidence that you have committed the crime.

Commonly, the Grand Jury will follow the recommendation from the prosecutors. It means that they will follow the suggestions to indict. It is because the probable cause is still low. Based on the data from Bureau of Justice Statistics, they found that the Grand Juries did not return the indictment for about 11 cases that the US lawyers prosecuted of 162,000 cases. This data was a valid information in 2010.

Nevertheless, the Grand Jury does not indict police officers often. In this case, you can learn from the review of 81 police shooting from 2008 in Dallas. The Grand Jury only indicted one police officer for that case.

According to some experts, they believe that the Grand Juries have a big concern on the testimony of the police officers. Other than that, the prosecutors should have a good relationship with the police officers because it is the solution to help them collect evidence for their suspect. If they blow the issue with the police officer as the suspect, it can make them work harder. The prosecutors will have less assistance from the police officers for collecting evidence. They can make their relationship with the police department go bad.

In the end, what does an indictment is the important process in the prosecution when it comes to a federal felony. Anyone who is the suspect of a crime before and after the indictment, this person should have an attorney to the consul. With the presence of an attorney, the suspect still has the chance to protect and to defense.

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