Indictment vs. Information in a Criminal Case

Posted on February 3, 2012 in: Criminal Defense

In Florida, a criminal case can formally commence by either an indictment or an information. An in formation the process by which it is decided whether or not to go forward with a criminal trial against the suspect in question. Either way, it is highly advised to seek assistance from a Broward County defense law firm.

 

Prosecution by Grand Jury Indictment in a Florida Criminal Case

One of the main differences between an indictment and an information is that in an indictment, the defendant in the case is not allowed to:

  • present evidence;
  • give witness testimonies; and
  • cannot appear in front of the grand jury to defend his or her case.

In fact, during the indictment, the prosecuting attorney is often the only one before a grand jury who is allowed to display evidence of criminal activity against the defendant.

Grand juries may be convened only for felony or capital cases and while they usually are not necessary in state cases, they are available. State cases usually opt for prosecution by information, or reserve grand juries for only certain types of crimes.

There has been some controversy that the less prominent role of the grand jury in state felony cases has diminished the integrity of the system, and might allow zealous prosecutors to level charges without sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds. Some court officials have even recommended abolishing the system altogether and instead, start with a preliminary examination.

 

Prosecution by Information in a Florida Criminal Case

By contrast, criminal charges made without a grand jury indictment, a practice carried over from 13th century England and popularized during the expansion into the American West, is known as a prosecution by information.

In a prosecution by information, a document is issued that formally assesses charges against a defendant, which the defendant can challenge during a preliminary hearing. Once the preliminary hearing is underway, the defendant has rights to cross-exam witnesses and provides evidence to defend his or her case. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to investigate whether or not “probable cause” has been established.

Probable cause is defined as the reasonable grounds under code of law for believing that a person has committed a criminal act. This is a much more expeditious process of determining whether or not to proceed with a criminal case and is heard before a judge.

During a preliminary hearing, the prosecution is only required to prove that there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial – it is not required to prove that a crime has actually been committed.

If your Florida criminal case is pending after an arrest, do not leave yourself and your rights unprotected. An attorney from a Broward county defense law firm will defend your rights and hold the prosecution accountable for meeting the full burden of proof for each charge against you.

No matter what you have been accused of, you have certain inalienable rights under the letter of the law, and an attorney will see that they are enforced.

 

Reach Out to a Broward County Defense Law Firm

When you’re facing criminal charges, your legal team is your best defense. The defense team you choose to represent you in court, defend your criminal rights, and relentlessly pursue your case could be the difference between jail time and getting on with your life. If you’ve been looking for a Florida defense lawyer, search no further. Contact the team at Falk & Ross for a no-cost evaluation of your case – 877-663-5110.

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