Felons go through multiple legal procedures that they may not completely understand. Felony indictment is one such term.
Here we will look at felony indictment and everything associated with it.
What Is Felony Indictment?
Felony indictment is nothing but a felon charged with a crime. The fate of the felon is in the hands of a grand jury. The prosecutor can press charges after considering the witness testimony.
The evidence presented by the public prosecutor is vital as well.
In simple terms, a felony indictment is a prosecutor accusing a felon of the crime he or she has committed. Various felony indictments depend on what the felon has done or failed to do per the law.
The felon is sentenced depending on the indictment.
Understanding A Felony Indictment
A detailed statement read out before a judge is a felony indictment. A felony is a serious crime which is why the term felony indictment.
Felony indictment is a way to inform an individual of the charges they will face. This is also to ensure the legal counsel can prepare a defense.
An indictment cannot serve as evidence against the felon. Whatever is mentioned in it is handed over straight to the judge.
A felony indictment may seem like framing the felon for the crime but the prosecution bases it on evidence and what the grand jury decides. A felony indictment can help protect the felon in certain scenarios.
Filing Felony Indictment
Although the prosecutor does file criminal charges, this is different from a felony indictment. The prosecution will first collect evidence. This evidence is examined and reviewed. Filing of the felony indictment happens after this.
The felony indictment becomes true only when there is enough evidence to charge the felon. The state first needs to present probable cause of the committed crime. Only then can they charge the felon in question.
After they present the evidence, the grand jury then decides whether or not an indictment should be filed.
More Information About Felony Indictment
1 The Fifth Amendment
According to the state, the Fifth Amendment comes into the picture where a person is not compelled to answer or admit to a crime unless presented in front of a jury.
2 A Grand Jury
A grand jury will listen to the evidence and the hearing presented before a judge. A grand jury is different from a regular jury and usually consists of 16 individuals.
They look at the evidence and listen to the hearing before deciding whether to charge the felon.
A grand jury is for Federal crimes and rarely for state crimes. States do not call in a grand jury and they often look for alternative methods to convict a felon.
3 Vote To Indictment
In a regular trial, the jury decides the verdict based on evidence but a grand jury decides whether a felony indictment needs filing. They will decide on a true bill where an indictment is to be filed or a no bill when an indictment is not filed.
Felony Indictment Procedure
When an arrest happens after an alleged crime, the prosecutor decides what charges need to be pressed against the felon. These could vary based on the scenario. These include:
- A judge hears the preliminary case of the felon based on evidence
- The felon is placed in front of a grand jury for an indictment
The prosecutor receives a deadline after this. This deadline is to draft the indictment and present it in the court of law. The prosecutor then determines whether the charges have to be filed. They also need to decide the charges based on the evidence and the verdict of the Jury.
Indictment Without Arrest
No, to file an indictment, a person must be arrested and placed in front of a grand jury. As per the law, arrests happen based on suspicion of a crime, and only then the trial begins.
An indictment is based on evidence and not suspicion. After an arrest, conviction or release of a felon happens based on the evidence.
The Need For Felony Indictment
Felony indictment dates back to the 19th century where the prosecution of felons happened based on evidence collected. During that period, however, certain states eliminated the grand jury. They allowed the prosecutor to charge the felon.
When prosecuted by a grand jury, the felon cannot ask for a review of the charges. If a grand jury returns a no bill, this does not mean that the felon can walk free. The prosecutor may have to come back in front of the grand jury to provide more evidence against the felon. In such a scenario, the prosecutor can do one of two things:
- Present the evidence in front of the grand jury again
- Skip the grand jury and file a criminal complaint
The Next Steps After A Felony Indictment
Once the grand jury files the indictment, the legal process begins. The felon appears in front of a judge who announces their sentence. The judge then explains the charges, penalties, and other such details. The defense attorney can then enter the plea of non-guilty.
Once this happens, the judge will set a bond and a trial date. The prosecution should then gather evidence to press charges during the next trial.
When Does The Trial Begin?
Both sides have a certain amount of time to put together evidence after filing the felony indictment.
1 Time Frame
After filing the felony indictment, the trial date is set. This depends on the time needed by the prosecutor to collect evidence. The defense also has to prepare a strong case.
2 Sixth amendment
The sixth amendment fast tracks the trial. This, however, is debatable and depends on how strong the attorney is.
Preparing For An Indictment
After their arrest, a felon prepares for the court appearance and the indictment proceedings. It is an opportunity to meet the attorney and negotiate the charges. The smartest thing to do would be to understand the legal process and come up with sensible answers.
Ask your friends and family to work closely with your attorney so your sentence can be reduced.