Interviewer: What is an indictment?
California Does Not Commonly Indict People by the Grand Jury System
William Kroger: In Los Angeles county or the state of California, they don’t really use indictment. Indictment is where they gather evidence against you. The prosecution will gather evidence against you and then they’ll take that evidence to a Grand jury and they’ll present it to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury is comprised of people that work full time for a year as Grand jurors. So they present the evidence to a Grand Jury and if the Grand Jury feels there’s enough evidence against you to take you to trial, then they will indict you.
It Is More Common to Have a Complaint Filed against You
In the state court what they do is they file a complaint against you. A complaint is where the District Attorney believes there’s enough probable cause or there’s enough of a reason to arrest you and to charge you with a crime. So, they’ll file a complaint against you. You will have the preliminary hearing and if you lose the preliminary hearing, when you go to the trial court you are charged not a complaint, but it’s then called information.
It’s a little complicated, but if you’re indicted, you don’t have a preliminary hearing, you skip the preliminary hearing part and you go right to the trial court arena. It’s the same thing with the federal court, with the magistrate court and the district court.
If they file a complaint, you go to the magistrate court and then you either waive the preliminary hearing and they indict you and then you go to the district court.