An indictment is a formal criminal accusation made against an individual who has allegedly committed a crime. An indictment is made based upon available evidence, but they are not required for every crime. On a federal level, indictments are only required for felonies that will be heard by a federal court. At a state level, prosecutors are not required to indict every person believed to have violated the law. However, many states do require indictments for certain crimes, including Texas. But, can charges be dropped after an indictment has been made?
Can Prosecutors Drop Charges After the Indictment?
Yes, it is certainly possible for prosecutors to decide not to proceed with charges after an indictment has been made. Even though an indictment is typically only handed down after a grand jury examines the evidence, this does not mean that a crime absolutely was committed. An indictment simply means that there is enough evidence to suspect that a crime may have been committed.
However, after an indictment is issued, there will be continued investigations into the alleged incident. At that point, there are various reasons why prosecutors or a judge may decide to quash the charges.
The number one reason for dropping or dismissing charges is insufficient evidence. This could include weak or incomplete evidence or incorrect evidence altogether. There are various reasons why evidence can be insufficient, even though this does not necessarily mean a person is innocent. There could have been a mistake regarding the investigation or evidence-gathering process made by police officers.
If the evidence gathered to be presented to a jury is weak, meaning that a jury is unlikely to convict, prosecutors may drop the charges to avoid the expense of a trial that they will likely lose.
Additionally, another reason for charges being dismissed is illegally obtained evidence. If a prosecutor’s case relies on evidence that will be inadmissible because it was illegally obtained or maintained by law enforcement officials, they may not move forward with the indictment charges. Illegally obtained evidence could certainly be a violation of a person’s right not to have illegally obtained evidence used against them.
You Need an Attorney if You Face Charges
If you or somebody you love has been indicted and is facing criminal charges, then you need to speak to an attorney immediately. Even if you think that the evidence being used against you is weak or inadmissible, please work with a criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling these matters. An attorney can conduct their own investigation into the incident and examine all of the evidence being used against you by law enforcement officials and prosecutors.
Additionally, even if prosecutors or a judge dismiss the case against you, please do not take this to mean that you are free and clear. It may certainly be possible for prosecutors to seek additional charges at a later date after they continue their investigation and obtain more evidence.
When you have a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Houston by your side, you will have a team ready to back you up and build your defense. You need allies, and your lawyer will handle all communication and negotiation with the other parties involved. The ultimate goal is to get the case dismissed altogether and ensure that these charges do not come back to you at a later date.