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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 02:13 pm
Being charged with a federal crime can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. Many people find themselves wondering – can my charges be dismissed before I am even indicted? The short answer is yes, it is possible in some cases for a federal defense attorney to get charges dropped prior to indictment. However, it is not a simple or easy process. Let’s take a closer look at how federal indictments work and what options you may have.
An indictment is an official written statement charging someone with a crime. In the federal system, indictments are issued by a grand jury, which is a group of citizens that reviews evidence presented by the prosecution and decides if it is sufficient to formally charge someone. An indictment signals that the government believes it has enough evidence to take a case to trial and prosecute the charges.
Being indicted in the federal system is a big deal. It means the prosecution feels confident in its case against you and intends to move forward with formal charges that could lead to conviction. Without an indictment, there is no federal case.
There are a few scenarios where skilled federal defense lawyers have succeeded in getting charges tossed prior to indictment:
Let’s look at each of these situations more closely.
One of the best ways charges get dismissed before an indictment is when the prosecution’s evidence is weak or insufficient. Federal prosecutors do not like to bring cases they have a low chance of winning at trial. If your defense attorney can convince them their case relies on circumstantial evidence, questionable witnesses, or other flaws, they may agree to drop charges.
For example, if the prosecution’s main evidence against you is testimony from witnesses who lack credibility or have incentives to lie, your attorney can argue those witnesses could be torn apart on cross-examination at trial. No prosecutor wants to stake their case on such weak reeds. Pointing out major holes in the government’s case pre-indictment could lead to dismissal.
Charges can also get tossed out before indictment if there are legal or technical problems with the case. Common reasons charges get dismissed on legal technicalities include:
If your attorney can demonstrate the government obtained evidence improperly or violated your rights in some way, they may successfully argue to have charges dismissed pre-indictment. Prosecutors do not want to build cases on faulty foundations that could get thrown out later.
Finally, charges often get dropped pre-indictment through plea bargain negotiations. Your defense lawyer can sit down with prosecutors and discuss a potential plea deal resolution to the case. This involves admitting guilt in exchange for reduced charges or lighter sentencing.
Plea deals allow both sides to avoid the time and expense of a lengthy trial. Defendants get more lenient outcomes compared to if they lost at trial. Prosecutors secure convictions without trial risk. In some cases, charges even get dismissed completely as part of the bargain.
The key is your lawyer negotiating for dismissal as a term of the plea deal. This usually involves cooperating with investigators or providing substantial assistance in other cases. While not easy, dismissal through plea bargaining pre-indictment is possible.
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