A grand jury indictment can lead to formal charges

You may have recently learned that authorities have you under investigation for a serious crime. Understandably, such information may have you feeling on edge and wondering what will happen to your future. Of course, it is important to remember that an investigation does not necessarily mean that you will face formal criminal charges.

Typically, after an investigation, the prosecution will present evidence to a grand jury. The grand jury will determine whether to indict a person on criminal charges, especially if the alleged crime resulted in serious felony-level allegations.

How does an indictment work?

In order for the prosecution to obtain an indictment for criminal charges, it must present physical evidence and witness testimonies to the grand jury. This presentation works to prove that probable cause exists for a person to face formal criminal charges for a specific crime. For more minor cases, a criminal complaint filed by the prosecution could lead to an arrest, but a grand jury indictment is more serious.

During grand jury proceedings, the suspect does not have the opportunity to present any information in his or her defense. Typically, a judge is not present for the proceedings either. In the event that the grand jury believes that the evidence presented shows probable cause for an arrest, authorities may then take action to place you under arrest and formally charge you with a crime.

Does an indictment always take place?

As mentioned, a criminal complaint filed by the prosecution may be enough for an arrest. However, even in more serious cases, a grand jury indictment may not occur if a person waives his or her right to a grand jury. This generally occurs if the prosecution offers a plea bargain that interests the defendant, but that means that the suspect agrees that enough evidence exists for the case to go to trial.

What can you do after an indictment?

In the event that a grand jury does indict you on serious criminal charges, it is important to remember that the indictment does not mean you are guilty. You still have the opportunity to create and present a criminal defense to combat any allegations you face. In efforts to approach your case in the best manner possible, you may want to go over your available options with an Illinois attorney. Your legal counsel can assess your circumstances and guide you throughout the legal proceedings.