For Government Contractors: Navigating Procurement Fraud Grand Jury Indictments

What Happens After A Grand Jury Indictment? Watson Lawyers

Does Indictment Always Mean Jail Time? No, It Does Not

The term “indictment” by a grand jury for a federal government contractor often brings about images of handcuffs, courtrooms, and jail cells. It’s a word that carries a heavy weight and stress, and for many, it’s synonymous with a guilty verdict and subsequent jail time.

However, this is a common misconception. An indictment by a grand jury does not automatically equate to a prison sentence. One can debunk the myth that an indictment always leads to jail time. We will delve into the true meaning of an indictment, the legal process that follows, and the potential legal repercussions that can arise.

Understanding the Concept of an Indictment

An indictment is a formal accusation by prosecutors that a person has committed a crime. It is not a conviction or a sentence, but rather the initiation of a legal process which can even lead to a criminal trial. The indictment is typically issued by a grand jury, a group of citizens who review evidence presented by the prosecution. The grand jury’s role is to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a criminal trial. It’s important to note that an indictment is not a determination of guilt but rather a decision that there is sufficient evidence to bring the case to trial.

The Legal Process Following an Indictment

Once an indictment has been issued to a government contractor or CEO, the legal process begins. However, it’s crucial to understand that an indictment is not a conviction. It is merely the first step in a potentially lengthy legal journey. After an indictment, the accused person, now known as the defendant, will have the opportunity to present their defense in court. This is where they can challenge the evidence, question witnesses, and attempt to prove their innocence.

Potential Legal Repercussions of a Grand Jury Indictment

While an indictment does not automatically mean jail time, it does open the door to potential legal repercussions. The severity of these repercussions depends on a variety of factors, including the nature of the crime, the evidence presented, and the defendant’s criminal history.

1. Trial and Conviction

If the defendant is found guilty during the trial, they may face jail time. The length of the sentence will depend on the specific crime committed and the applicable laws in the jurisdiction. However, it’s important to remember that a conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest standard of proof in the legal system, and it means that the evidence must be so compelling that there is no reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt.

2. Plea Bargain

In some cases, you may choose to enter into a plea bargain. This is an agreement between the prosecution and the defense, where the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence or lesser charges. Plea bargains can be a strategic move for defendants facing serious charges or overwhelming evidence. By agreeing to a plea bargain, a defendant may avoid a lengthy trial and potentially receive a shorter jail time or even probation instead of imprisonment.

3. Acquittal

You will not face jail time if you are acquitted during the trial. An acquittal means that the jury or judge finds you not guilty based on the evidence presented by the government. However, it’s important to note that an acquittal does not necessarily mean you are innocent. It simply means there was insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at the criminal trial.

4. Dismissal

Sometimes, the charges may be dismissed before or during the trial. This can happen if there is insufficient evidence, a violation of the defendant’s rights, or other legal issues. If the charges are dismissed, the defendant will not face jail time. However, a dismissal does not erase the indictment from the defendant’s record and does not prevent the prosecution from re-filing charges in the future.

Factors That Can Influence the Outcome of What Happens After a Grand Jury Indictment

Several factors can influence the outcome of a grand jury indictment and the potential legal repercussions. These factors include:

1. Strength of the Evidence

The strength of the evidence presented by the prosecution can greatly impact the trial outcome. If the evidence is weak or insufficient, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely, strong evidence can make it more likely for a conviction to occur.

2. Defense Strategy

The defense strategy employed by the defendant’s legal team can also play a significant role in the case outcome. A strong defense strategy can cast doubt on the prosecution’s case, potentially leading to an acquittal or a lesser sentence. This can include presenting counter-evidence, questioning the credibility of witnesses, or challenging the legality of the prosecution’s evidence.

3. Criminal History

The defendant’s criminal history can also influence the potential legal repercussions. If the defendant has a prior criminal record, it may result in a harsher sentence if they are convicted. This is because many jurisdictions have laws that increase penalties for repeat offenders.

4. Sentencing Guidelines

The applicable sentencing guidelines in the jurisdiction can also impact the potential legal repercussions. These guidelines provide a framework for judges to determine the appropriate sentence based on the nature of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history. Judges have some discretion within these guidelines but generally must stay within the prescribed range.

Can a grand jury indictment be dismissed?  Once you are indicted by the grand jury, you generally have three main options. You defense lawyers can motion or ask the court to dismiss the the indictment – legal arguments must be made to the court. You can also decide to enter a guilty plea with the advice of counsel. Lastly, you can challenge the allegations defend yourself at trial, and implement your constitutional right to have a jury trial. 

Federal Indictments in Procurement Fraud Cases

In cases of procurement fraud, a federal indictment is issued when the majority of the grand jury believes there’s substantial evidence to support the case. The primary goal of the jury is to ascertain if probable cause exists, not to pass judgment on innocence or guilt. If the evidence suggests potential involvement in a federal crime, an indictment is put forth. For a trial to advance, this indictment needs validation from the respective U.S. Attorney.

Federal Indictments Across the U.S.

At the federal level, indictments concerning procurement fraud or other major felonies against the government undergo an exhaustive investigation. A jury, comprising hand-picked residents, evaluates the evidence at hand to decide if an indictment is warranted against a federal contractor. Given that procedures might vary across states, it’s crucial to engage a government contractor criminal defense attorney who is well-acquainted with federal criminal processes and nuances.

Why Might a Government Contractor be Indicted?

Indictments are initiated when there’s suspicion of involvement in severe federal crime by the prosecutor. At the end of the investigation, any alleged crimes will more than likely be turned into a False Claims Act case to monetize or criminalize the outcome of the case. It’s essential to understand this represents a determination of probable cause, not an assertion of guilt. The prosecutor still has to start preparation from the beginning to move to trial. A federal conviction by a grand jury does not mean guilty before a jury at trial. See information about target letters.

Difference Between Indictment, Conviction, and Charge:

Indictment: A formal accusation of a severe crime at the federal or state level.

Conviction: The outcome of the case going before a jury at the end of your criminal trial; you can either be found guilty or acquitted by the jury .
Charge: Represents that formal accusations have been made against the suspected party.

Grand Jury Indictment vs. Charge: The distinction lies in the entity making the accusation. Grand juries present indictments, while individual prosecutors initiate charges.

What Happens After a Grand Jury Indictment? Post-Grand Jury Indictment Procedure:
Once an indictment has been served, the accused undergoes a criminal trial where the evidence is meticulously examined to determine the extent of involvement.

Contact us for Immediate Help

If you are a federal government contractor or CEO facing or have been indicted, call our government contract fraud defense attorneys immediately at 1.866.601.5518.