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Can I Be Charged With a Crime Without Being Arrested?

If a grand jury votes to indict you, then you can be charged with a crime before you have been arrested.

If you have a friend who has told you a story, from personal experience, about a wild night that got out of control, then you know that it is possible to get arrested without being charged with a crime. Plenty of domestic disputes and scenes of public drunkenness lead to someone being led away in handcuffs, but as often as not, the whole situation blows over by the end of the next business day. In other words, an arrest does not necessarily equal criminal charges, and criminal charges do not necessarily equal an arrest. It is possible to be charged with a crime before you are arrested. Defendants who find themselves in this situation may or may not have even known that they were under investigation. If you think you are under investigation for a crime, do not wait until after your arrest to contact an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer.

What Happens at an Indictment?

Many criminal charges arise from incidents in which law enforcement officers reasonably believe that they have caught the defendant in the act of committing a crime and have probable cause to make an arrest. For example, they might respond to a 911 call from neighbors about the defendant burglarizing a nearby house and find the defendant still present when they arrive, or they might respond to a call from the defendant’s spouse about domestic violence. They might also find illegal drugs in a car or in a defendant’s jacket pocket during a traffic stop. In other cases, the criminal charges arise from a grand jury indictment.

Grand jury indictments are common in cases involving financial crimes, Internet crimes, and conspiracy. In these cases, the evidence usually consists of online communications and financial documents; there is no big climactic moment where the police catch the suspect. At an indictment, prosecutors present evidence to the grand jury, which has been summoned in a similar process to juries at criminal trials. One difference is that a grand jury usually has 23 jurors instead of 12. Likewise, the grand jury only hears the prosecution’s side of the story, not the defendant’s. Another difference is that the grand jury does not find the defendant guilty or not guilty; they only decide whether the prosecution’s case against the defendant is strong enough to justify filing criminal charges.

What Should You Do if You Think You are About to Be Indicted?

If you find out that you have been indicted, you should contact the police, and they will set a court date so that you can enter a plea. Even before that, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer so that you can discuss defense strategies and possible plea deal options for your impending criminal case.

Contact an Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you think that you are being investigated and that a grand jury indictment is a possibility. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia, about criminal defense cases.