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The Indictment: What Is It and What Happens Next?

In recent days, the term “indictment” has been the topic of much conversation. If you are curious as to what exactly an indictment is, the process and steps after someone has been indicted, keep reading for the facts. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of the criminal justice process, detailing the typical steps in a criminal case from grand jury proceedings to sentencing.

Indictment – Process – Steps – Facts

 A criminal case gets started with a grand jury…

A grand jury is a group of people called to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against someone. During grand jury proceedings, the prosecutor presents evidence to the grand jurors, in the form of witness testimony and/or the presentation of documents. When and If the grand jury determines the prosecutor has presented sufficient evidence, the grand jury issues an indictment: A formal accusation of a crime.

2-800x671After the indictment is issued, the accused will either be arrested, or permitted to voluntarily surrender to law enforcement. Next, the accused will be processed or “booked” as a defendant in the criminal case. This includes getting fingerprinted, and having photographs taken.

The next step in the criminal case is the arraignment…

An arraignment is a court hearing where the defendant is brought before the Court to be formally advised of the charges against them. At the arraignment, the defendant can enter a plea of not-guilty, guilty, or no contest. Typically, defendants enter not-guilty pleas at this stage. After a not-guilty plea, the Court will set a date for a pre-trial hearing, or trial.


Pre-trial Hearings

During pre-trial hearings, the prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge discuss various issues related to the case in preparation for trial. The defense can argue that certain evidence should be excluded from trial, that the charges should be dismissed, and other legal issues. Pre-trial hearings can also be used to negotiate plea deals.


Over 90% of criminal cases end in plea bargains…

A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant in which the defendant agrees to enter a plea of guilty or no contest; Usually in exchange for a reduced sentence or some other concession from the prosecutor. However, if a plea bargain cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial.

At trial, the prosecutor is required to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant committed the alleged crime. A jury trial begins with jury selection, a process called voir dire. After a jury is seated, both sides are given the opportunity to make opening statements. Next comes the presentation of evidence. The prosecution presents its case first, and the defense has the opportunity to cross examine the state’s witnesses and present its own evidence. At the close of evidence, both sides make closing arguments to the jury. The jury then deliberates to reach a unanimous verdict of guilty, or not guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence. If the defendant is found not guilty, the defendant is acquitted and released. If the jury cannot reach an agreement, it is considered a “hung jury” and the case may be retried.

Understanding the various stages of a criminal case is important for anyone who may find themselves involved in the criminal justice system, whether as a juror, witness, victim, or defendant. It is essential that we continue to strive for a fair and just criminal justice system that not only upholds the rule of law, but treats all individuals with dignity and respect.

 Your Criminal Law Attorneys

Plakas Mannos has a group of attorneys experienced in criminal law, ready to provide counsel to individuals and businesses faced with a criminal investigation or charges. We actively manage the entire process, from the first sign of involvement through investigation, prosecution, and post-trial matters. Our vigorous defense strategies best ensure a favorable result for the client, whether a negotiated pre-trial resolution or a defense verdict.

Peter T. Cahoon Attorney and Partner
Brandon W. McHugh Attorney
Elisabeth C. Jackson Attorney


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