What is an Indictment?

What is an IndictmentIn Maryland, felony cases are handled differently than misdemeanors. Usually, in a felony case, a person is arrested by a police officer, and a preliminary hearing date is set. During the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor has to demonstrate to the judge that the state has enough evidence to move forward with the case.

However, a prosecutor does not have to wait for the preliminary hearing and can instead send a case to the grand jury. A grand jury is a group of citizens, usually up to 23 people, who meet in secret. Witnesses testify before the grand jury. The goal of the grand jury is not to determine whether the suspect is guilty or innocent of the crime but to determine if there is enough evidence that some crime has been committed. The grand jury decides whether or not the state has enough evidence to move forward on the felony charges and have a trial later on. The grand jury hands down what is known as an “indictment.”

Securing an indictment is usually not difficult for a prosecutor. The grand jury proceedings are very one-sided. The suspect and the suspect’s attorney are generally not allowed to be present. The trial is where the suspect will get his or her constitutional and procedural protections, and where all of the evidence will be brought out.


Indictments typically come after someone has already been arrested and a police officer has an opportunity to conduct an investigation. The evidence collected by the officer is presented to the grand jury. But sometimes, such as in white collar crime cases, the indictments take place before the person is actually arrested. These situations usually involve a lengthy investigation that is ongoing.


Once someone has been indicted, his or her case is moved from District Court to Circuit Court. There will be an arraignment where the defendant will be given a copy of the indictment. The indictment includes information about the case, such as the specific offense or offenses allegedly committed, along with the date, time, and place of the offense. The court may give a formal reading of the indictment. Hearing and trial dates will be scheduled at the arraignment.


If you’ve been arrested, having an experienced attorney by your side can help you get the best possible outcome in your case. The attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC are here help. Contact us online or call us at (301) 494-9620 to schedule a free consultation.

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