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What is an Indictment?

Indictments are extremely serious in Georgia and they have many potential penalties. Our criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta explains more.

All criminal offenses are taken very seriously in Georgia, but some are considered more serious than others. An indictment occurs at one of the highest, and therefore most severe, levels of the criminal justice system. If someone is found guilty after an indictment, they could even face the death penalty. If you are in fear of being indicted, it is critical that you work with an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer who can give you the best chance of retaining your freedom.

What is a Grand Jury Indictment in Atlanta?

Generally speaking, an indictment occurs when a grand jury formally accuses someone of committing a crime by way of a majority vote. This is different from simply being charged by law enforcement, after which the prosecution files the case with the court. Under the Constitution, the federal government must obtain a grand jury indictment for all felony offenses. In Georgia, indictments must be obtained only for capital offenses, or those punishable by death.

If you have been indicted, you not only face some of the most serious consequences, but the prosecution has likely been building a case against you for some time. It is for this reason that it is so important to work with a criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta who has the necessary experience with indictments, and fighting back against them.

What is a Grand Jury in Atlanta?

Unlike trial juries, which are made up of 12 people, a grand jury can consist of anywhere between 16 and 23 people. Grand juries also serve for a certain period of time, reviewing multiple cases instead of just sitting in on one trial.

Grand juries do not determine a person’s innocence or guilt. The prosecution presents evidence to the grand jury and the jury members will then deliberate the evidence. After deliberation, they will determine if the prosecution has enough evidence to create probable cause. If a grand jury decides the prosecution does have enough evidence against you to create probable cause, you will be indicted. The grand jury usually does not hear any arguments from the defense. However, they may choose to gather evidence on their own and call other witnesses.

Another difference between grand juries and trial juries is that grand juries do not have to agree unanimously. Due to the fact that only 16 to 23 jurors have to appear, only a majority vote that is greater than 12 is necessary to endorse an indictment. A grand jury will endorse an indictment by saying “true bill,” and they will endorse a case with insufficient evidence as “no bill.” If the grand jury believes the prosecution did not have reason to appear before a grand jury, they may even endorse the indictment by saying “malicious prosecution.” In these cases, the prosecution is then responsible for covering the costs of the unmerited charge.

Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Atlanta Can Fight Your Indictment

If you have been indicted, or believe you are being investigated, ourAtlanta criminal defense lawyer can help. At Ghanayem & Rayasam, our skilled attorney has the experience these cases require and will rely on that expertise to give you the best chance of retaining your freedom. Call us today at (404) 561-0202 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.