Arrests in New York for theft crimes such as Grand Larceny, Scheme to Defraud, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property and Criminal Tax Fraud are bad enough. However, New York Grand Larceny lawyers and theft attorneys have greater concerns well beyond an arrest. Certainly, an arrest for Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 155.35) or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 165.52) is far from enviable and is absolutely terrifying for the accused and his or her family, but an indictment takes these concerns to a much higher level.
Without any context, the mere assertion that an indictment is more concerning than the initial arrest is often lost on an accused. However, if you take little away from this blog entry remember that an indictment is something that an accused should always seek to avoid. This blog entry will briefly address what it practically means to be indicted on a New York larceny crime while supplying some basic information about New York Grand Juries.
Working conversely from the paragraph above, before one deals with indictments in New York State, once must first deal with the Grand Jury. In non legal terms, a New York Grand Jury is made up of roughly a couple dozen people. These individuals sit for a term or period of time where they hear multiple cases. In the Grand Jury room a prosecutor asks direct questions of a witness about a particular crime. When that witness is done speaking, Grand Jurors can ask questions through a prosecutor who determines first whether those questions are relevant. While issues of probable cause are generally not addressed, substantive evidentary questions may be asked. Whatever evidence is presented to a New York Grand Jury, it is much more brief than that presented at a trial. In fact, the burden of proof is not the trial standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, but more along the line of reasonable cause to believe a particular felony was committed.
Although a Grand Jury is a secret proceeding (Grand Jurors can even make a determination before there is an arrest), an accused does have the right to testify before that body. When doing so, however, the accused will have to waive certain rights of self incrimination. Further, an accused’s attorney will be present before the Grand Jury, but he or she cannot object or ask questions. Witness and evidence can be submitted to a prosecutor before hand and a Grand Jury can ask to hear or see evidence beyond what a prosecutor provided, but there is no judge to oversee the actual proceeding in the Grand Jury.
Armed with this information and knowing who/what the Grand Jury is, the next logical question is what is an indictment? If a Grand Jury determines there is enough evidence to reasonably find that a felony was perpetrated, then a “true bill” or indictment is voted. The indictment is filed with the court and briefly sets forth the charges the accused will face. These charges can contain misdemeanors, but must contain at least one felony. Remember, the standard is lower than at trial and much more brief. Hence the old saying, “a Grand Jury can indict a ham sandwich.”
Practically speaking, once an accused is indicted, prosecutors can move forward on felony charges. At this post indictment juncture, a Supreme Court or County Court Judge will preside over the case that was previously overseen by either a Criminal Court Judge or Local / Municipal Court Judge. Additionally, where threats of state prison may have been made pre-indictment, those threats become a potential reality. Therefore, if you were facing an E, D, C or B felony (whether it is a white collar theft offense or a more violent crime), once the the indictment is filed you can face up to four, seven, fifteen and twenty-five years in prison respectively.
Without an indictment (barring a Superior Court Information agreement), you cannot be prosecuted for a felony. To be clear, while you may face felony arrest charges, without an indictment New York Assistant District Attorneys will be unable to move forward on felony crimes. In fact, barring some procedural issues, if prosecutors do not obtain an indictment within six months of your arrest then the felony case against you must be dismissed.
Only a very brief analysis, to better understand the arrest and indictment process in a New York Grand Larceny case, either review the arrest process section of New-York-Lawyers.org or review this blog and the NewYorkTheftAndLarcenyLawyers.Com website. Further information on countless theft, property, and violent crimes is readily available as well.
Founded by two former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys, Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm. Our New York Grand Larceny lawyers represent clients in theft crimes throughout the New York City region.