If you are being accused of committing a serious offense in Texas, you may face an indictment. Many people do not understand the difference between being charged and indicted in Texas. If you are facing criminal charges in Texas, you need to understand how the indictment process works and how long an indictment will take in your case.
Contact a Temple criminal defense lawyer if you are being accused of committing a misdemeanor or felony in Texas. Your attorney will help you develop an effective defense strategy to protect your rights and freedom.
What is an Indictment in Texas?
Under Texas Penal Code, an indictment means that a person is formally charged with a felony. In Texas, a person who is accused of committing a misdemeanor receives a Complaint or Information, which formally informs them of misdemeanor charges.
But what does it mean if you get an indictment in Texas? An indictment means that you are being accused of committing a felony in the State of Texas. The indictment will state the name and statute number of the offense you are being accused of.
It is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you become aware of an indictment.
What’s the Difference Between Being Indicted and Charged in Texas?
Many Texans mistakenly believe that being charged with a crime and being indicted are synonymous. However, the most significant difference between the two is that:
Being charged with a crime means that you are accused of committing a misdemeanor
Being indicted means that you are accused of committing a felony.
You need a criminal defense lawyer regardless of whether you have been indicted or charged with a crime in Texas. At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our criminal defense attorneys are prepared to help you fight back against an indictment or charges to protect your freedom.
What is the Indictment Process in Texas?
In Texas, the indictment process can start with a defendant’s arrest and charges or an actual indictment. Indicting a person accused of a crime is a complicated yet straightforward process.
If a person is being suspected of committing a felony, the prosecutor will take their case to the grand jury for a vote. Before voting to indict the accused, grand jurors may talk to witnesses and ask the prosecutor to produce more evidence.
The prosecutor can secure an indictment if at least 9 of the 12 grand jurors vote to indict the accused when there is sufficient evidence to establish probable cause of their guilt. If there aren’t at least nine votes from grand jurors, the prosecutor cannot secure an indictment.
Each case is unique, which is why it is essential to speak with a knowledgeable criminal attorney to discuss your particular case. Your lawyer will explain the indictment process and help you avoid being indicted or charged with a crime in Texas.
Can I Be Indicted Without an Arrest?
Yes, under Texas law, the accused can be indicted without an arrest. The grand jury does not need to hear your testimony to indict you. During the indictment process, the grand jury relies on the prosecutor’s case alone to vote in favor or against the indictment.
If the grand jury determines that there is sufficient evidence to indict you, you can be indicted without an arrest. However, just because you have been indicted does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted.
For this reason, it is imperative to contact an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to help you fight against the charges. Your lawyer may help you get the charges against you dropped.
It is not uncommon for Texas courts to drop the charges when the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to indict the accused.
What is a Sealed Indictment?
If an indictment is sealed, it means that no one can disclose the existence and contents of the indictment because it is not a public record. In other words, if an indictment is sealed, the defendant may not realize that they are wanted by police in connection with a felony. Typically, a sealed indictment is unsealed when the suspect is arrested.
How Long Does It Take to Get Indicted in Texas?
People facing felony charges in Texas may wonder, “How long does an indictment take?” Each case is unique, which means the time it takes to indict a person accused of a felony may vary from one case to another.
For crimes not explicitly listed in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 12.01, a general statute of limitations applies to the indictment:
Three years for felonies; and
Two years for misdemeanors.
With the vast majority of federal crimes, the grand jury has five years to indict the accused. However, if the defendant is arrested and free on bond, the prosecutor has up to 180 days to secure an indictment.
What is the Difference Between Indictment and Arraignment?
Some people mistakenly believe that indictment and arraignment are the same things. However, here’s what makes these two processes different:
A grand jury does not need the defendant’s presence to vote for an indictment. With an arraignment, a judge will read the criminal charges in front of the defendant.
You have an opportunity to respond to the charges filed against you at the arraignment. The same cannot be said about an indictment.
While you can be indicted with or without an arrest, arraignment happens after the charges were filed against the defendant or the prosecutor secured an indictment.
If charges have been filed against you or you have been indicted, the arraignment will usually take place within 72 hours. What happens after the arraignment depends on how you plead. It is advisable to consult with a skilled criminal lawyer before the arraignment to prepare a defense strategy.
Talk to an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
Keep in mind that an indictment does not mean that you have been found guilty. An indictment means that there is enough evidence against you to move forward with your criminal case.If you are facing an indictment or criminal charges, do not hesitate to speak with a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options. Get a free case review with our criminal lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to talk about your case. Call (254) 220-4225.