Understanding The Intricacies Of Being Charged With A Crime

Law Blog

Following an arrest, the next step is to be charged with a crime. The way this action comes about can vary depending on the way the arrest was carried out and the crime itself. For more information about the three different ways that criminal charges are brought, read on.

Indicted by the Grand Jury

Only serious crimes, or felonies, are decided upon by a grand jury. In almost every instance, murder and other serious felonies call for a grand jury indictment. Grand juries are made up of citizens from the regular jury pool and they listen to several cases during the time the court is in session. The prosecution is the only part of the judicial process represented during a grand jury proceeding — no defense lawyer or information is provided to the jury. The jury listens to the evidence the state has against the defendant and decides whether or not to indict them for murder, kidnapping, rape, or other charges. Once indicted, the defendant still has to stand trial. Unfortunately, the one-sided nature of a grand jury indictment means that few are not indicted. Additionally, even if the grand jury fails to indict a suspect, it might have no effect on the actions of the prosecutor to proceed or to drop the case.

How Other Crimes Are Charged

For other crimes, like DUI charges, theft, or misdemeanors, things are less formal. In the vast majority of cases, law enforcement makes an arrest based on the suspicion of a crime being committed and then a charging document is prepared. The document cites the facts of the case as they are known at the time of the arrest, the specific charges, and the counts. There are rules about how long a suspect can be held without being told of the charges and they are often informed of the charges at an arraignment. You may be arrested for certain offenses but then charged with others. It doesn't matter what you were told by law enforcement at the time of the arrest about the reasons for the arrest. What matters are the crimes that are listed on the charging document.

In some instances, an arrest occurs as a result of an investigation. Here, it is the prosecutor's office that prepares the criminal complaint leading to the arrest of a suspect. As with all arrests, the information in the charging document, complaints, and grand jury proceedings are all just conjecture until proven in a court of law. At any time, charges can be dropped, added to, or amended in several ways as long as the trial has not begun. Additionally, many criminal cases are resolved using plea bargains.

If you have been arrested, speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.


15 July 2019

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