Find more about the legal process following a federal indictment in the Big Apple.


A grand jury will indict a person for a federal felony if the crime was committed in New York and was tried in federal court. The second phase in the federal criminal justice process is the indictment, which is a formal accusation that the accused committed a crime.  Discuss your case with a Syracuse criminal defense lawyer.

What happens during an indictment

If the government has indicted you, they have probable cause to think that you committed a crime and intend to prosecute you in court. Though being indicted does not imply you are guilty, it does mean you must go through the criminal court system to clear your name.

In New York, the most typical charges against defendants are:

  • Offenses committed by professionals
  • Drug-related crimes
  • Acts of violence
  • Institutionalized bribery in the public sector

The prosecution initiates the process by submitting an “accusation” or “information” before the grand jury. In order to determine whether or not to indict, the matter will be presented to a grand jury, which is a group of 16 to 23 laypeople. When they have adequate proof, they will issue a bill of indictment.

This begs the question: what happens next

After the indictment has been signed off on as a “true bill,” it is sent on to the federal judge or magistrate by the foreperson of the grand jury. If you are not currently in police custody, a warrant for your arrest will be prepared by a judge or magistrate.

Short and to the point, an indictment details the suspected offender’s actions leading up to and during the commission of the crime. There will also be a statement of the maximum possible sentence.

After being indicted, you will have your first court appearance, during which the allegations against you will be read and you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you enter a guilty plea, the judge will instantly impose a punishment. The trial will proceed if you enter a not-guilty plea.

Remember that even if you’ve been indicted, you still have choices and rights. You have the right to dispute the allegations brought against you, and if there are flaws in the prosecution’s evidence or procedure, the indictment may be dismissed.