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What are the rules regarding indictments in New York?


An indictment’s a written accusation by a grand jury that’s filed with a superior court which charges someone with the commission of a crime, or with the commission of two or more crimes. The term indictment includes a superior court information.

Superior Court Information

A superior court information’s a written accusation by a DA that’s filed in a superior court that charges someone with the commission of a crime, or with the commission of two or more crimes. A superior court information might include any crime the defendant was held for action of a grand jury for, as well as any crime(s) properly joinable, but will not include an offense not named in the written waiver of indictment. A superior court information has the same force and effect as an indictment, and really all the procedures and provisions of law applicable to indictments are actually also applicable to superior court informations, except where otherwise provided.

Indictment: what offenses may be charged, joinder of offenses and consolidation of indictments

An indictment has to charge at least one crime and may also charge in separate counts one or more other crimes, including petty crimes, provided that all such crimes are joinable.

Two offenses are “joinable” when they’re based on the same act or on the same criminal transaction, as that term is defined in subdivision two of section 40.10, or even though based on different criminal transactions, these crimes, or the criminal transactions underlying the crimes, are of such a nature that either proof of the first crime would be material and admissible as evidence in a trial of the second, or proof of the second would be material and admissible as evidence in a trial of the first, or even though based on different criminal transactions, and even though not joinable, these offenses are defined by the same or similar statutory provisions, and actually are the same or similar in law, or though not directly joinable with each other, each is joinable with a third offense contained in the indictment. In this case, each of the three offenses can properly be joined not only with each of the other two, but actually also with any further offense that’s joinable with either of the other two.

In any case where two or more crimes or groups of crimes charged in an indictment are based on different criminal transactions, and where their joinability rests completely on the fact that such crimes, or as the case may be at least one crime of each group, are the same or similar in law, in the interest of justice and for good cause shown, might, on application of either a defendant or the people, order that any of these crimes be tried separately from the others. Good cause will include but not be limited to situations where there’s substantially more proof on one or more joinable offenses than on others, and there’s a substantial likelihood that the jury would be unable to consider the proof separately as it relates to each offense.

A convincing showing that a defendant has important testimony to give about one count, as well as a genuine need to refrain from testifying on the other, which satisfies the court that the risk of prejudice is substantial.

As you can see, the rules regarding indictments are many and varied, but that doesn’t mean they have to be complicated too. Let us walk you through the separate steps of the law so that you’ll not only be completely clear as to where you stand within the law, but also so that you’ll be better equipped to handle any charges you have pending, or that you might have pending in the future.

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