What is a Federal Indictment?  Can a Defendant in a Government Contract Fraud Case Get an Indictment Overturned?

What is a Grand Jury Indictment?

contractor criminal defense lawyers for federal indictmentsTheodore P. Watson. Federal indictments from a grand jury in a federal criminal case involving federal government contractors and defendants in those cases is the formal process where federal law enforcement like the is the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Attorney’s office bring federal criminal charges against a defendant. The case usually starts with the government’s investigation. During the investigation, the prosecution gathers evidence and speaks to potential witnesses to build the case against the contractor.

What is the Indictment Process?

Federal grand juries are formed by the courts of each federal district. Once formed, and empaneled, the indictment process requires the jury to listen to evidence and testimony presented by the federal prosecutor. There is no judge sitting in the evidentiary process. Only the grand jurors, government’s attorney, and witnesses are present. It is common for the government’s attorney to present its investigation to the grand jury. However, the jury can also conduct its own investigation.

Pre-indictment

Pre-indictment includes everything up to the empaneling of the grand jury. After the government investigators provide evidence to the US attorney to suggest that a crime has been committed, the collection of evidence must now be presented to demonstrate to the jury that there is probable cause to go to trial. 

 Indictment Notice to Contractor Defendant

When the jury issues an indictment in a government contracts fraud case, the contractor or defendant is provided with written notice from the US attorney and the indictment is provided to defense attorney and the defendant. The indictment includes the basic information of the charges against the contractor or individual defendant. Common reasons for indictment of government contractors / individual defendants includes (a) major fraud against the government (depends if contract in question is valued at more than$1million); (b) conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States; (3) false claims to the government, and more.

Does Being Indicted Mean You Are Guilty?

No: You are indicted by a grand jury when it believes that there is evidence that can show that you have committed a crime. The indictment process is one to find guilt or innocence. Such is only reserve for an upcoming criminal trial. In Indictment only shows that there is probable cause to more forward to trial.

Post Indictment

You are notified of the indictment, the case must go to trial within seventy days, unless the a contractor or defendant waives rights to a speedy trial. The Government contractor fraud defense attorney must be given all of the evidence that can be used against the defendant at trial (discovery). Once the indictment is in place, it should not be later advocated by the prosecution to show the contractors guilt. The prosecutor now has to start all over freshly prepare for trial. See more on what happens after being indicted.

Approach to Getting Federal Indictments Dismissed – Can You Get an Indictment Overturned?

Getting federal indictments overturned is a very rare occurrence. When an indictment is handed down, your federal defense attorney should look to see if there are any circumstances to get the indictment dismissed. In criminal case that involves federal government contracts, the issues involved in getting the indictment can be very tricky and not to mention – complex. However, the federal prosecutors do sometimes make mistakes in the pre-indictment and post-indictment phase.

Here are a few of the reasons that a judge may choose to dismiss an indictment.

Prosecutorial misconduct: The US Supreme Court stated that government’s interest in a criminal prosecution “is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” The federal attorneys have an professional obligation but also have a very important obligation to the United States Constitution itself to conduct a fair trial. All defendants are entitled to fair trial. Prosecutors pursuing government contract fraud cases against federal contractors cannot improperly or illegally act (or fail to act, when required to do so) in a way that causes a defendant to be wrongfully convicted or punished without justification.

  • Can the prosecution use bad faith charges when in fact there is no evidence to support the charge against the contractor / defendant?
  • Can the government attorney make statements to the media that prejudice the jury pool.
  • Can the prosecutor push the contractor to plead guilty of government procurement fraud by misrepresenting about the existence of incriminating evidence against the contractor?
  • Can the government lawyer make improper statements to the grand jury such as statements about the guilt or innocence, making conclusions about small business law when the SBA has not weighed in.
  • Can the prosecutor in a government contractor fraud case fail to turn over exculpatory evidence?

These are all questions of fact – your government contractor fraud defense attorney should look into these issues, and make a determination whether or not to bring certain matters before the court after the grand jury proceeding. In some circumstances, depending on the facts, you could get an indictment dismissed.

Was there lack of probable cause to arrest the defendant? Again, depending on the facts of the case, the prosecutor may not have the justification to arrest the contractor / defendant.

Was there a specific process that government was to follow before bring the case? Government contracting rules, especially those involving SBA regulations with specific authority from congress, can create a situation where the prosecutor ‘jumps the gun’ and brings the case before the grand jury but fails to follow a required process.

Is the government’s case a fishing expedition where there is no real evidence?

Putting on untruthful testimony in exchange for immunity? Can the government threaten to bring a case against a co-defendant, by offering to give immunity but also knowing that the co-defendant will not provide truthful testimony?

The prosecution cannot prove that you were engaged in criminal activity under federal procurement rules. The defendant’s alleged conduct did not violate government contracting regulations and therefore no crime. Defense contractor fraud cases often allege that the defendant’s conduct violated a procurement regulation and hence a proposed criminal statute. This becomes problematic for a contractor defendant’s future when the opinion is that of the prosecutor, and the prosecutor’s only. Who validates actions under the procurement regulations? See Target Letter vs Indictment in Criminal Investigations for Government Contractors?

Did government investigators violate your constitutional rights during the investigation stage? Facts during the investigation may show that the investigator somehow violated your constitutional rights.

The above inquiries are all possibilities if the facts support them. In a criminal government contracting fraud case, having a government fraud defense attorney that understand the procurement process, the FAR regulations and Congressional statutes that relevant to the case are essential to looking at the possibility of getting a federal indictment of a government contractor overturned and dismissed.

Get Immediate Help In Your Government Contract Fraud Defense Case

If you are facing a government investigation, facing federal indictment in a case involving federal contracts, call our contractor fraud defense attorneys for immediate help. Call us toll-free at 1.866.601.5518.