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Does Indictment Mean Jail Time in New York?

Last updated on: May 16, 2023

By Lebedin Kofman LLP

Facing a federal indictment in New York can be an overwhelming and life-altering experience, with severe consequences upon conviction. It is crucial that you take appropriate measures to mount a robust defense, protect your rights, and fight for your freedom. 

Receiving an indictment does not necessarily result in a prison sentence. Rather, an indictment signifies that the prosecution has convinced a grand jury that there is enough evidence to pursue a criminal case against you. You have the option to plead “not guilty” and contest the charges in a criminal trial. 

In some cases, a Grand Jury may also set a bond along with the indictment, which may lead to an order for your arrest. If a bond is set, you and your loved ones can post bail during the course of the case, but before the resolution of the case.

It is important to speak with an experienced federal crimes attorney right away if you are facing a federal criminal charge. A skilled defense lawyer may be able to help you protect your rights and your freedom. 

At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our team of  New York federal criminal defense attorneys is ready to help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

Definition of Indictment

An indictment is a formal accusation made against an individual charged with a federal crime. Federal prosecutors present evidence and witness testimonies to a grand jury, which then decides if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. 

The grand jury doesn’t determine the individual’s guilt or innocence— that is the responsibility of the trial jury during the actual trial. Instead, the grand jury’s task is to evaluate the evidence and determine if there’s sufficient cause to commence legal proceedings.

If the grand jury decides that there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial, they issue an indictment, which is a written statement that outlines the criminal charges against the defendant. This statement serves as the basis for the criminal case that will be presented in court during the trial.

Federal Indictments

In the state of New York, if someone is facing a felony charge, they cannot go to trial until they have been indicted. Although some states do not mandate an indictment before prosecuting a person for a crime, the process may vary for federal crimes. In federal crimes cases, an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) evaluates the strength of the evidence and interviews federal investigators to decide whether to press charges. 

If the evidence is insufficient and further investigation is unavailing, a grand jury may be called upon. It is important to note that federal indictments apply only to felony offenses, and indictment is not required for federal misdemeanors before charges can be brought.

Having a skilled federal crimes attorney can help you understand what other options you may have when you are facing charges for federal crimes. Our top-rated defense attorneys at Lebedin Kofman LLP have years of experience helping clients protect their rights and their freedom in a federal case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

Role of a Grand Jury in Indictments

A grand jury plays a vital role in the federal indictment process. Composed of 16 to 23 members, the grand jury reviews the evidence and hears witness testimonies presented by federal prosecutors. They may ask questions and request additional evidence. 

The grand jury proceedings are held in secret to protect the witnesses and maintain the integrity of the process. The defendant and their attorney are generally not present during these proceedings, except when the defendant elects to testify.

After evaluating all the evidence and testimonies, the grand jury votes on whether the case merits an indictment, known as a “true bill.” If the majority of the jury members agree on the indictment, they issue a formal written accusation, and the criminal case proceeds to the trial stage.

Standard of Proof for Federal Indictments

The standard of proof for federal indictments is “probable cause.” This means that the grand jury must determine that there’s sufficient evidence and reason to believe the defendant committed the alleged crime. Probable cause doesn’t require absolute certainty, but rather a reasonable belief based on the available evidence.

This standard of proof is considerably lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold required to convict a defendant in a criminal trial. It’s essential to understand that an indictment doesn’t guarantee a conviction, as the trial jury, during the actual trial, will assess the defendant’s guilt or innocence based on a higher standard of proof.

The length of jail time an individual faces after an indictment largely depends on a range of factors that influence the decision-making process. 

Indictments Consolidation 

Defendants can be charged together in one indictment if they are charged with every offense alleged, have a common scheme or plan, or if the crimes charged are based on the same criminal transaction. If the indictment includes a count charging enterprise corruption, all defendants must be charged with every count alleged. 

If a specific criminal activity is needed for a joinder but is not currently prosecutable alone, the court may still order a joint trial unless a defendant shows good cause for a separate trial due to undue prejudice. If multiple defendants are charged separately but could have been charged together, the court may consolidate the indictments for a single trial. Any unrelated crimes charged in the separate indictments will remain separate.

Importance of Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

When facing a federal indictment in New York, one of the most critical decisions you can make is to hire a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney. This is crucial because federal cases differ significantly from state cases in terms of investigation, prosecution, and punishment. 

Moreover, federal prosecutors are usually more experienced and relentless, with vast resources at their disposal. It is vital to have a knowledgeable and aggressive attorney who is well-versed in handling federal cases to counter their tactics. An experienced criminal defense attorney will thoroughly review your case, analyze the evidence, and determine the best approach to fight the charges. The right attorney can make all the difference between a favorable outcome and a conviction that carries heavy penalties, including lengthy prison terms and significant fines.

At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our team of top-rated New York criminal defense attorneys may be able to help ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. We may also be able to guide and counsel you through the criminal process and negotiate plea agreements that are in your best interests. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

Criminal Defense

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