What Does Indictment Mean?
Definition and Explanation of Indictment
Indictment is a formal accusation or charge of a crime that is presented to a grand jury by a prosecutor. The purpose of an indictment is to establish probable cause that a crime has been committed and that the accused person is responsible for committing it.
An indictment typically contains a list of charges, which may include specific details of the alleged crime such as the time, place, and manner in which it was committed. Once the grand jury reviews the evidence presented by the prosecutor, they will determine whether or not to issue an indictment.
It’s important to note that an indictment does not establish guilt. Rather, it is the first step in the criminal justice process, and the accused person is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. If an indictment is issued, the accused person will have the opportunity to defend themselves against the charges and present evidence in their favor.
Difference Between Indictment and Arrest
Indictment and arrest are two separate legal procedures that are often confused with one another. While they are related to one another, they serve different purposes in the criminal justice system.
Arrest occurs when a law enforcement officer takes a person into custody based on the suspicion that they have committed a crime. The arrest is made on the basis of probable cause, which means that the officer has reason to believe that the person has committed a crime. The purpose of an arrest is to bring the accused person into custody and to prevent them from fleeing or committing further crimes.
Indictment, on the other hand, occurs after the arrest and is a formal accusation that is presented to a grand jury by a prosecutor. The grand jury will then review the evidence presented by the prosecutor to determine whether or not to issue an indictment, which is a formal charge of a crime.
In summary, arrest is the initial step in the criminal justice process and is based on probable cause, while indictment is a formal charge of a crime that is issued after the arrest and is based on a grand jury’s review of the evidence presented by a prosecutor.
Process of Indictment
The process of indictment typically begins with an investigation into a crime. Once law enforcement officers gather evidence, a prosecutor will review the evidence to determine if there is enough probable cause to present the case to a grand jury.
If the prosecutor believes there is enough evidence, they will present the case to a grand jury, which is a group of citizens who are responsible for reviewing the evidence and determining if there is enough evidence to issue an indictment. The grand jury may hear testimony from witnesses and review physical evidence before making their decision.
If the grand jury issues an indictment, the accused person will be formally charged with the crime and will have the opportunity to defend themselves in court. If the grand jury does not issue an indictment, the case will not proceed to trial and the accused person will be released from custody, unless they are being held on other charges.
Types of Indictments
There are two main types of indictments: true bills and no bills.
A true bill indictment is issued when a grand jury finds that there is enough evidence to formally charge the accused person with a crime. This means that the grand jury has reviewed the evidence presented by the prosecutor and has determined that there is probable cause to believe that the accused person committed the crime.
A no bill indictment, on the other hand, is issued when the grand jury finds that there is not enough evidence to formally charge the accused person with a crime. This means that the grand jury has reviewed the evidence presented by the prosecutor and has determined that there is not enough probable cause to believe that the accused person committed the crime.
It’s important to note that a no bill indictment does not necessarily mean that the accused person is innocent of the crime. Rather, it simply means that there is not enough evidence to formally charge them with the crime at this time. The prosecutor may continue to investigate the case and present new evidence to the grand jury at a later time.
Legal Rights of the Accused During Indictment
During the indictment process, the accused person has certain legal rights that must be respected. These include:
- The right to be informed of the charges against them
- The right to legal counsel
- The right to remain silent and not incriminate themselves
- The right to a fair and impartial grand jury
- The right to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence in their favor
It’s important to note that these rights are guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and apply to all individuals who are accused of a crime, regardless of their guilt or innocence. If these rights are violated during the indictment process, the accused person may be able to have the charges against them dismissed or have any evidence obtained through the violation suppressed.