The Federal Indictment Procedure: What It Means to be Federally Indicted by a Grand Jury
There are numerous levels of the criminal justice system, and in all honesty, it’s not fun to be on any of them. Criminal allegations can range from misdemeanor charges to felony charges, and an individual can even face accusations from the state level all the way up to the federal level of crimes. Anyone facing a federal indictment has a long road ahead of them. To begin this difficult journey, it is important to understand federal indictments and what they mean.
What is a Federal Indictment?
A federal indictment starts with a formal complaint being filed by the U.S. Attorney. This complaint, also known asinformation, is reviewed by a federal grand jury. Evidence against the accused is usually reviewed by the grand jury as well, and if a majority of the members feel that there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial, they’ll return a federal indictment.
Once this federal indictment is issued, the accused is, for all intents and purposes, charged with the crime. At this point, if the defendant isn’t already behind bars, an arrest warrant is issued. These indictments may actually be “sealed,” or kept secret from the public, until the accused is actually arrested. This helps in reducing fleeing.
How to Handle an Indictment
Federal authorities will definitely tell a person that it’s in their best interest to cooperate. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. A person should allow their attorney to make the decision of what will work best in achieving their hoped-for outcome. This sort of legal help can also help the accused make bond so that they don’t have to wait for their trial in jail.
Entitlement to a Grand Jury?
When facing a federal indictment, the accused person is entitled to have his case heard before a federal grand jury. The defendant does, however, have the right to bypass the grand jury and go straight into a jury trial or simply accept a plea deal. This is sometimes done based solely on the federal prosecutor’s initial complaint or information.
Criminal defendants don’t always have the right to a grand jury. Not all states provide grand juries, and unfortunately, there is no constitutional requirement for states to do so. Luckily, the accused can have their attorney stand with them in front of a judge who will basically act in a role similar to that of the grand jury.
Federal indictments should never be taken lightly. Felonious charges are already extremely serious, but those brought forth on a federal level can be especially disastrous for a person if they’re not well prepared. It’s recommendable for an individual to seek out an attorney when facing any criminal charge, but to not do so when facing a federal indictment is flat out foolish. Going this route alone can easily end up taking away the best years of a person’s life.
To learn more about federal indictments, give James Alston a call at [number type=”1″]