Crime television shows make it seem like every accused party finds a criminal defense attorney and goes to court right away after the arrest. In reality, legal defense is a lengthy and complicated process. Part of this procedure includes indicting the defendant for the crime before even going to trial.
Indictment might sound like an intimidating term, especially if you or one of your loved ones is going through this process. Our experienced legal professionals at the Bangerter Law Office in Willoughby, OH, will walk you through everything you need to know about what an indictment means, whether or not you should hire a criminal defense attorney, and what happens next.
What Does Indictment Mean?
Let’s start by defining the term “indictment.” When a person faces serious criminal charges, the indictment is a formal charge against the defendant that the court will create if enough evidence exists to verify that the person did commit a crime. An indictment is an official accusation that essentially bridges the time between an arrest and going to trial.
The indictment typically happens after an arrest, though it can also happen beforehand. Being indicted is only the first step of a lengthy legal process.
The only time that indictments are required is for federal crimes tried in federal court. Otherwise, many states do not require indictments for felony charges—though some still do, like Ohio, Texas, Massachusetts, and New York.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer If I Get Indicted?
Indictments happen in front of a grand jury of 15 Ohio citizens who will listen to the prosecutor’s statement and determine whether there is probable cause to charge the defendant. At this time, the prosecutor can present evidence and call forth witnesses. The defendant can also testify before the jury makes its decision.
If the grand jury indicts the defendant, the case would move to an arraignment hearing in front of a felony judge. This hearing would include complex information regarding the trial and criminal offenses. The accused individual should not attend this hearing without help from a criminal defense lawyer.
A criminal defense lawyer will analyze the defendant’s case and help determine the best path moving forward before trial. These decisions could include pleading guilty or not guilty and many other specifics surrounding the situation.
So yes, if you get indicted, you should seek a criminal defense lawyer to help protect you during the indictment process and everything that might come next.
Criminal Defense Lawyers Answer Your Burning Questions
Indictments can be tricky to understand, but you must know what you’re doing. Read on as our legal community at the Bangerter Law Office answers some frequent questions about indictments.
How Is the Indictment Decided?
A jury will decide whether to move forward after your indictment and go to a courtroom trial. Their decision will depend on all available evidence, including the defendant’s criminal record, current accusations, tangible evidence, and more. They do not debate at this point whether or not the defendant is guilty. Instead, they simply decide if enough evidence exists to go to trial.
Does An Indictment Mean I Am Guilty?
The indictment does not mean you are guilty. This accusation does not affect a future trial or its outcomes.
The purpose of indictments is to determine whether or not a trial is necessary. This process can prevent non-evidence-backed false accusations from wasting time in court.
Do I Have To Stay in Jail After an Indictment?
Whether or not you go to jail after being indicted depends on several factors. The judge will decide your danger to the community and flight risk (for example, if you have access to a lot of money or have overseas connections). The prosecution and your defense attorneys will also attend the bond hearing to determine if you may be released and the bond release amount.
What Should I Look for When Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me?
When searching for a criminal defense attorney, it’s essential to consider the law firm’s reputation, experience, and knowledge. You want to find an attorney that has:
- Ample experience working in similar cases
- A solid reputation from clients and those working in the industry
- In-depth knowledge surrounding the relevant legal matters
- Appropriate time to handle your case with care
A Criminal Defense Lawyer Near You in Cleveland, OH: Bangerter Law Office
Indictments are only one specific part of the entire trial process. Hiring a criminal defense attorney after your indictment can protect your rights and adequately prepare you for each step of the upcoming process.
Your future is in your hands, so contact our team at the Bangerter Law Office today if you’re searching for a criminal defense lawyer in the Greater Cleveland area. We will go over the details of your case, discuss your options, and work toward finding the most suitable outcome for your situation. Please call us at (440) 409-7898 or complete our online form for a case evaluation.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.