A direct indictment occurs when the investigation is taken directly to a grand jury. This is often done in cases that are controversial, highly-publicized, or involve public officials or celebrities.
During the grand jury proceeding, the prosecutor presents all evidence and asks the grand jury to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you with a crime. The standard is known as “probable cause.”
What Is a Direct Indictment?
A direct indictment is the first formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. Prosecutors may take a case directly to a grand jury after a criminal investigation, and they will generally rely on this initial step of the prosecution process to move forward to trial.
During a grand jury proceeding, the prosecutor presents evidence to determine whether or not there is enough evidence for the grand jury to return an indictment. A jury typically must have a majority vote of 12 or more to hand down an indictment.
Grand juries are an important part of the criminal justice system. They serve a watchdog role, and they also provide an opportunity for defendants to challenge evidence. However, prosecutors are usually reluctant to bring indictments until they are confident that they have enough evidence to move ahead.
Why Do Prosecutors Take Cases Directly to a Grand Jury?
In some states, prosecutors can initiate a criminal case by taking it directly to a grand jury. This is a type of court that’s smaller and less formal than the trial jury used during a trial, but has more power to decide whether there’s enough evidence to charge someone with a crime.
The Grand Jury is made up of 12 everyday citizens called to serve and hear cases that prosecutors present to them. If they find that there is sufficient evidence to indict a person, they issue what’s called an indictment.
When a defendant testifies before the Grand Jury, it should be done carefully and only after consulting with an attorney. Prosecutors may threaten to throw the defendant in jail if they don’t testify, and the testimony could later be used against them in a prosecution.
What Happens When a Direct Indictment is Returned?
Most laypeople get a little overwhelmed when it comes to understanding the criminal justice process. There are many things going on that can be confusing and it can seem like there are never any answers.
In many cases, prosecutors have a way to bypass the general district court and preliminary hearing and present a case directly to a grand jury. This method is referred to as a direct indictment.
When a direct indictment is returned, it means that the grand jury decided that there was enough evidence to indict you for the alleged crime. However, it is important to note that an indictment is not a conviction and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of the crime.
What Happens When a Direct Indictment is Not Returned?
During the grand jury process, the prosecutor presents evidence and tries to persuade the jury to indict. If the jury votes in favor of an indictment, then charges are formally brought against the defendant.
After an indictment is formally issued, the accused party is formally charged with a crime and must appear at a pretrial hearing or trial to decide whether or not to plead guilty. If the accused person pleads guilty, they may be sentenced immediately or at a later date.
Regardless of the circumstances, the indictment should contain enough information to inform the accused of both the nature and cause of the accusation. In addition, the indictment must allege facts that, if true, constitute a federal crime.