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Information on a Felony Indictment in Washington State

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Felonies are serious criminal offenses in Washington state, often resulting in jail time and fines. When you are arrested for a felony, a prosecutor or a grand jury will decide whether to formally charge you with a crime. Depending on the situation, they may file a criminal complaint or an indictment to initiate the case.

If you are facing a felony indictment, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An indictment can be very serious, and you need a lawyer on your side who can help you navigate the criminal justice process. Here is what you need to know about felony indictments in Washington state.

What Is a Felony Indictment?

A felony indictment is the process of filing charges against a person who likely committed a felony crime. Examples of felony offenses in Washington include armed robbery, the sale of illegal drugs, rape, or homicide. Usually, an indictment is brought to a grand jury, a panel of twelve people who are appointed by a superior court to hear evidence related to a crime. 

In order to obtain an indictment, a prosecutor must first present evidence to the grand jury. The evidence must show that it is likely that you committed the crime that you are facing charges for, and the grand jury will vote on whether to proceed with the case. 

In Washington state, at least three-fourths of the jurors must vote that there is probable cause to believe that you committed the crime. After this vote, the felony indictment will end. The charges will either be dismissed, or your case will proceed to trial. 

What Is the Difference Between an Indictment and a Criminal Complaint?

In a felony indictment, the prosecutor must present evidence to a grand jury, which will decide whether there is probable cause to proceed with the charges. However, not all cases require an indictment. 

In some situations, the prosecutor may file a criminal complaint directly against the defendant to initiate the case. A grand jury does not need to review the evidence for criminal charges to be filed; this is up to the prosecutor’s discretion. Different laws determine which avenue a prosecutor is required to take. 

What Happens After an Indictment?

Once a grand jury decides to indict a defendant, it will return the indictment to the relevant court. After this happens, the criminal case will begin. If you are indicted and are not already in jail, you may be arrested and brought into custody. The court may also summon you to a preliminary hearing.

Then, your case will proceed to trial. The prosecutor will present evidence and arguments trying to establish that you committed the crime. Your defense attorney will also present evidence and arguments to convince the court to dismiss the charges against you. If it is in your best interest, your lawyer may help arrange a plea deal with the prosecution to reduce the potential penalties that you may face.

Facing Felony Charges? Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing a felony indictment, you need an attorney on your side who can fight for your side of the story. A Washington felony lawyer will work tirelessly to obtain the best possible outcome in your case and protect your rights under the law. As soon as possible following your arrest, contact an attorney to represent your case.

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