What is an indictment? Definition and Meaning Explained

Donald Trump has become the first former US president to face criminal charges after a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him over silent money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The grand jury’s decision to indict Mr. Trump for payments made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election was released on Thursday, March 30.

The one-term president would face 34 counts related to commercial fraud, according to Yahoo News.

He is expected to be arrested and arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday, April 4.

New York is now preparing for possible protests outside the courthouse on the historic day.

What is an indictment in the US legal system?

An indictment is an official notice that prosecutors believe an individual has committed a crime, and it contains basic information about the charges against them.

According to the Department of Justice, to secure a felony indictment, a prosecutor files a case against an individual before a grand jury.

Witnesses may be called to testify before the grand jury and evidence is presented in one or more closed sessions.

After hearing from the prosecutor and witnesses, the grand jury secretly votes to decide if there is enough evidence to press charges in the case.

If a grand jury decides there is not enough evidence, there will be no indictment.

All proceedings before a grand jury, which, for example in a federal case, is normally made up of 16 to 23 members, are sealed. At least 12 people on a grand jury must agree for an indictment to be ordered.

Former Trump prosecutor Michael Cohen arrives at the district attorney’s office to complete his testimony before a grand jury on March 15, 2023 in New York City.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Lawyers say the burden of proof for a grand jury is low because the process does not determine guilt or innocence; rather, it is a procedure to move a case forward and ultimately to trial.

What is an indictment?

If an indictment is returned, a prosecutor can then take the case to an arraignment hearing, which takes place before a judge.

During the arraignment hearing, the judge reads the charges against the accused and the maximum sentences for those charges.

FILE – Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the opening of adult entertainment trade show Venus in Berlin, October 11, 2018.


At this point, the defendant can plead guilty, not guilty, or enter into a plea agreement with the prosecutors.

If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case continues and the judge will set bond, a preliminary court date and a trial date.

A defense attorney is hired or appointed for the defendant. The case can then proceed to discovery, which includes access to reports, prosecution statements, witnesses and evidence to be presented to a jury at trial.

Will Trump be arrested?

Mr. Trump will be arrested on April 4 ahead of his impeachment hearing.

As part of the reservation process, their fingerprints and personal data will be collected.

However, he will not be handcuffed and a photo ID should not be taken.

The former president flew to New York on Monday afternoon.

What charges is Trump facing?

The case involving Ms. Daniels involves a silent payment of $130,000 to supposedly buy her silence ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Ms. Daniels has alleged an extramarital affair with Mr. Trump, a claim that the former attorney for former president Michael Cohen sought to shut up with a payment that was refunded to him through the Trump Organization, according to court filings in the federal case to sue him.

In that case, in which Cohen pleaded guilty, prosecutors argued that Mr. Trump’s business hid the nature of the payments.

To prove that Mr. Trump committed a fraudulent offense that exceeds a misdemeanor, prosecutors must present evidence that his records were intentionally tampered with and were tampered with with intent to commit, aid or conceal another crime. .

The charges are currently unknown, but reports say he faces 34 charges. The charges will be unsealed when Mr. Trump is arraigned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *