There are a lot of pieces of terminology out there that may completely go over your head, ones that are going to be quite important to remember, especially if you or someone you care about has to deal with them. All too often, people get certain terms mixed up, or they simply cannot grasp the difference between them period. One such example of this is what the difference is between being indicted in a court of law and being arrested, two words that may seem similar, but in reality, have a number of differences that need to be acknowledged.
Understanding the difference between an arrest and an indictment
The first thing to understand about the difference between an arrest and an indictment is that an arrest is performed by a police officer, and an indictment is performed in a court of law. However, it should be noted that the timing of an indictment and an arrest are not always going to be the same. In some jurisdictions, an indictment is pursued before an arrest is made, while other jurisdictions file them after the arrest. Basically, the indictment is meant to be an attempt to demonstrate that a crime has been committed and that there is reasonable confidence in pursuing charges against the person accused of one. However, not every jurisdiction will even deem an indictment to be a necessary part of this process. In the event that a case is being held at a federal level, an indictment by a grand jury is required. Most states don’t require an indictment for every charge, though some states, such as Texas and New York, have laws that require an indictment to be done in the event that the case is related to a felony. A grand jury is required as part of the indictment process in all states except for two.
Meanwhile, an arrest is when a police officer takes into custody a person who has a reasonable suspicion of having committed a crime, although it cannot be denied that police are given a lot of leeway in determining whether there is a reasonable suspicion. Heck, if you resisted arrest and are found to not have committed the crime, they were initially arresting you for, you can still be charged with resisting arrest. In any situation where you are dealing with a police officer, and you are unsure as to whether you are being arrested or detained, you can always ask whether they are doing either to you. If not, and if you wish to leave, you are legally entitled to walk away and disengage from that situation. In the event that you believe you are under suspicion for a crime, regardless of whether you had committed any crime or not, the more that you interact with the police, the more likely it is that they could use things you say against you or use the statements to allege reasonable suspicion necessary for arrest.
Being the subject of an indictment is not a good thing for a person, but it is important to note that it does not necessitate that you are guilty of a crime. Much like an arrest, it is merely indicating that there is probable cause to go forward with said indictment. Though generally, it should be noted that if a grand jury (or other body) decides to indict you for a case, it is because they believe that there is merit to going forward with it. Even if a prosecutor, the police, and the grand jury all believe that someone is guilty of a crime, if they do not believe that they have adequate evidence to go forward, they are most likely going to let that person walk. At least until they receive enough evidence to make them confident in going forward with the indictment. After all, the prosecutor is only going to have one chance to successfully prosecute a suspect, and as such, they are going to wait until the iron is hot before they strike. Because of double jeopardy, if the suspect is found not guilty of the specific crimes they are accused of committing, they cannot be charged for those crimes a second time.
Whenever you are arrested, indicted, or placed on trial, you are entitled to receive aggressive legal representation, a fact that not everyone is fully aware of. No matter how much you think you can do without a good lawyer, the fact is, a lawyer can do a world of good for your case, while representing yourself — or being represented by a cheaper (and likely lower quality) attorney will not do you well at all. A good attorney can not only make you more likely to get off for what you were accused of doing, but they can also make it so that if you are likely to be found guilty, you can get a lighter sentence than without their aggressive representation behind you. We can tell you that you will definitely not regret having that team on your side, especially if you are backed against a wall.