What To Expect Following an Indictment
A federal indictment represents the end of a government investigation and confirms that you’re suspected of committing a crime. An indictment generally implies that one must appear in court. However, despite being served an indictment, you may still resolve your case before a court verdict. In order to resolve your case postindictment and prehearing, it’s essential to understand all of the possibilities available and leverage these in your favor. Five potential outcomes follow a federal indictment:
A pretrial dismissal is the preferred outcome. This avoids going to trial and enables a federal judge to overturn the indictment and dismiss charges.
A plea agreement occurs when the prosecution and defense negotiate an outcome. This is uncertain and the severity depends on the circumstances of the case. This may be more desirable than attending a hearing.
Not Guilty Verdict
This occurs when the jury determines that the prosecutors have not proven the case beyond reasonable doubt.
This occurs when the jury or judge determines that the prosecutors have proven the case beyond reasonable doubt and you are therefore determined to be guilty of the crime.
If the jury is unable to make a unanimous decision, the judge may be required to declare a mistrial. The Department of Justice may then decide to drop the charge(s) or reprosecute the defendant.
When Can You Expect Proceedings To Begin?
Although the judicial proceeding generally follows a federal indictment, various intermediated stages of pretrial practice exist before the trial begins. It’s important that federal criminal defendants use these stages to their advantage to leverage their position. This may include acquiring a favorable pretrial position or to plan for a favorable verdict. These include:
Discovery refers to the complex process of requesting and obtaining information during the pretrial stage. This is available to both parties and each is legally required to comply with discovery requests outlined in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. This subjects both parties to a continuing obligation and does not have any set time limit.
2. Plea Deal
Plea deal negotiations may be instigated at any time during the pretrial phase. The discretion lies with each party to propose a plea deal, and negotiations may be either less or more desirable for both parties. Federal defendants are required to work with their counsel to ensure that any statements made during negotiations are deemed inadmissible in court. Entering a plea deal often has both positives and drawbacks. The agreement is binding; therefore, careful consideration must be taken.
3. Pretrial Motions
Pretrial motions may be used to achieve various outcomes. The defense may file a pretrial motion to challenge discovery requests, exclude evidence from trial, reduce the charges at issue, and require the prosecution to produce records and witness information. Defendants use pretrial motions to advance their plea negotiation strategies and increase the potential for a successful trial.
4. Challenging an Indictment
Challenging an indictment is not always successful as judges may be hesitant to supplant a grand jury’s judgment. However, in applicable circumstances, a judge may do so. Some examples of when challenging an indictment may be appropriate include:
- Insufficiency of the indictment (i.e., failure to plead all required elements)
- Procedural deficiencies (e.g., filing in the wrong venue)
- Inadequate notice of the charges at issue
- Prosecutorial misconduct
- Expiration of the applicable statute of limitations
What Are Your Rights as a Person Accused? How Can a Lawyer Help?
If you’re served an indictment and have been accused of a crime, you may have certain rights and different options available to you. To ensure that you can avoid going to court, it’s essential to know and understand all your options and rights.
The federal defense attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP have a wealth of experience in criminal matters. If you or someone you know has been served with an indictment, Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP are here to help.
Please contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 to get started today.