Common Questions About the Pre-Indictment Phase

Now that the first part of a criminal case has been explained, I will answer some common questions our office receives about the pre-indictment phase.

Question: How long will it take for a case to be filed?

Answer: There is no set time period for which a case must be filed. It can take months or even years.

Question: But isn’t there a statute of limitations that prevents a prosecutor from filing a case?

Answer: The shortest limitations period that will make prosecution time barred is two years. However, a prosecutor could (purposefully or accidentally) overlook the running of limitations. In that situation, defense counsel can raise the running of limitations in a pre-trial motion to dismiss.

Question: Is there anything that a defense attorney can do before a case is presented to the grand jury?

Answer: Yes. Some counties permit defense counsel to prepare a “grand jury packet,” that will be presented to the grand jury along side the evidence that was gathered from the investigation. A compelling grand jury packet could very well result in a “No Bill” from the grand jury.

Question: If I was arrested and the grand jury no billed my case, can I get the arrest expunged from my record?

Answer: It depends on the type of charge for which you were arrested. If that charge is not prohibited from being expunged, then you may be eligible for an expunction after certain conditions have been met, most commonly, the limitations period has run.

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