I is for Indictment

A written accusation charging that an individual named therein has committed an act or omitted to do something that is punishable by law.

 

 

 Indictment: The formal charging instrument issued by a grand jury. An indictment is required in all capital cases, but the prosecution can elect to present any case to the grand jury. In all other cases the prosecution can simply file what is called a
"bill of information" to formally charges a person with a crime.

 The Fifth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution provides that "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment of a Grand Jury..." However, while grand juries are common in charging Federal crimes, many states use grand juries sparingly, and use the criminal complaint (the bill of information) followed by a "preliminary hearing" presided over by a judge, who will determine whether or not the prosecutor has presented sufficient evidence that the accused has committed a felony. If the judge finds there is enough evidence, he/she will order the case sent to the appropriate court for trial.

An indictment is found and presented by a grand jury. It originates with a prosecutor and is issued by the grand jury against an individual who is charged with a crime.  An indictment does not mean that a person is guilty of a crime. If you remember from my "Grand Jury" post~ there is a saying that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. 

  An indictment only means that a grand jury concluded that there is sufficient evidence to believe a person has committed a crime. Before such individual may be convicted, the charge must be proved at trial by a much higher standard of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Here is the sign up list for the A to Z challenge. It has links to all of the participants.

21 comments:

  1. You have really done your research for these posts!

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  2. Interesting information here.

    Imperfect though it may be, I like our system of justice. The only flaw is that "reasonable doubt" gets confused by people, sometimes; I have heard juror interviews after certain cases where they talk about "beyond a shadow of a doubt."

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  3. Interesting topic for your A-Z posts..legal thrillers are my favorite.  Best of luck with your novel.   Thanks for visiting my blog.  Feel free to join in the Hodgepodge anytime.  I post random questions on Tuesday and everybody links back with their answers on Wednesday.  Random is kind of my middle name.   I followed you back : )

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  4. Hi Melissa .. glad you're using your professional skills and enlightening us on the various legal aspects .. thought they're different in some ways to the UK ones .. I too love legal style thrillers ..  cheers Hilary

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  5. I've had the opportunity to flip through an indictment before. It wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be. Lots of legal jargon. I was like, "what? huh?" :)

    Thanks for the breakdown. It helps a lot.

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  6. Well, thank goodness they needed that indictment thing. Otherwise, that whole goat, midgets, and Crisco misunderstanding would have gotten really ugly.

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  7. Lawyer + writer + legal thriller = female John Grisham! Wow! Nice to meet you.
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  8. Ah well that's good to know that indictment doesn't mean guilt. It is a tricky word because of that silent C. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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  9. "...indict a ham sandwich..."  I love that line. 

    I enjoy hearing about the process.

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  10. You're awesome! Is there anything you don't know about? I love it! Very fun & I love the comic. LOL!

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  11. A little while, when I was a member of the major of the month club in college, I wanted go into law.  This intrigues me to no end.  Great post.

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  12. Thank you. I am glad you found it interesting.

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  13.  Thank you, you always say such sweet things. My theme is the Louisiana legal system & crimes and since I am a lawyer it only seems like I Know things. Ask me any question that requires a common sense answer and I fail miserably.

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  14. The ham sandwich analogy is actually  true.

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  15. Thank you. Yes, I am smiling from ear to ear with a silly grin. Come back anytime and boost my ego. I like you.

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  16.  Thanks for stopping by. I am quite sleep deprived right now, but I must have missed the goat thing. Sorry. Maybe you can fill me in later?

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  17.  I know what you mean. The boiler plate legal stuff can be quite boring.

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  18.  Thanks Hilary, I am learning that the U.S. legal system differs quite a bit from the legal system in the UK

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  19. Thank you Joyce and I will jump in on the next Hodgepodge Wednesday. It sounds cool.

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  20.  I know what you mean. It is frustrating, but it is the best system in the world. It is hard to explain the concept of Reasonable Doubt to jurors when we (the lawyers & judges) have a difficult time understanding it.

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  21.  Thanks Alex. I guess I sort of cheated because this is my area of expertise so I haven't had to do too much research.

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