In some criminal matters, a prosecutor may choose to present his or her allegations to a grand jury in order to determine the potential success of his or her case at trial. When this occurs, the prosecutor is seeking an indictment, which is a finding by the grand jury that the accused may be guilty of the pursued crimes. An indictment is not punishable in the same sense as a criminal conviction, but it may encourage a prosecutor to move forward on a legal matter with more confidence than he had before.
Recently, a Louisiana doctor was indicted on several federal charges related to the alleged illegal distribution of narcotics and alleged threats made against federal law enforcement officials. The doctor apparently provided narcotics to several of his patients by fraudulent means, and several of those patients later died from alleged overdoses on the supposed drugs. When he discovered that he was being investigated by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, he made threats against the officials’ lives.
The grand jury seated for his indictment found in favor for the prosecutor, which means that if the case goes to trial, the doctor could face some very serious penalties. The drug charges alone could result in the doctor serving twenty years in prison and may require him to pay a fine of up to $1 million.
Though an indictment does not directly result in a legal sanction against an individual, it can be a difficult legal hurdle to overcome. It is possible for a criminal defendant to be indicted of federal charges and be found innocent when his or her matter actually goes to trial. A person’s criminal defense strategy can play a critical role in his trial success and may help determine if he or she will preserve his or her freedom after trial.
Source: NOLA.com, “Metairie doctor indicted for illegally dispensing Oxycodone and threatening officers,” Jed Lipinski, Sept. 29, 2016