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Donald Trump: What is an indictment in a US criminal case?

Donald Trump has taken to his Truth Social platform to predict he will soon be arrested for paying silent money to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Mr Trump would become the first US president in history to face criminal charges if indicted by New York prosecutors following a year-long investigation.

The former president made the arrest prediction in a furious all-caps post on his Truth Social platform on Saturday morning.

In it, he called on his supporters to protest any arrests and “take back our nation.”

While a spokesperson for Mr. Trump said they had not been officially notified by prosecutors of any impending charges, it was reported that meetings had taken place between city law enforcement, state and federal officials in New York regarding his indictment.

What is an indictment in the US legal system?

An indictment is an official notice that prosecutors believe an individual has committed a crime, and it contains basic information about the charges against them.

According to the Department of Justice, to secure a felony indictment, a prosecutor files a case against an individual before a grand jury.

Witnesses may be called to testify before the grand jury and evidence is presented in one or more closed sessions.

After hearing from the prosecutor and witnesses, the grand jury secretly votes to decide if there is enough evidence to press charges in the case.

If a grand jury decides there is not enough evidence, there will be no indictment.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen arrives at the District Attorney’s office to complete his testimony before a grand jury on March 15, 2023 in New York City.

(AFP via Getty Images)

All proceedings before a grand jury, which, for example in a federal case, is normally made up of 16 to 23 members, are sealed. At least 12 people on a grand jury must agree for an indictment to be ordered.

Lawyers say the burden of proof for a grand jury is low because the process does not determine guilt or innocence; rather, it is a procedure to move a case forward and ultimately to trial.

If an indictment is returned, a prosecutor can then take the case to an arraignment hearing, which takes place before a judge.

During the arraignment hearing, the judge reads the charges against the accused and the maximum sentences for those charges.

FILE – Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the opening of adult entertainment trade show Venus in Berlin, October 11, 2018.


At this point, the defendant can plead guilty, not guilty, or enter into a plea agreement with the prosecutors.

If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case continues and the judge will set bond, a preliminary court date and a trial date.

A defense attorney is hired or appointed for the defendant. The case can then proceed to discovery, which includes access to reports, prosecution statements, witnesses and evidence to be presented to a jury at trial.

The Independent Gt

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