So Your Indictment May Be Flawed: What Now?

A non-lawyer might be forgiven for being somewhat confused by the rules governing indictments.  The basics are summarized easily enough: a trial court’s jurisdiction depends on a facially valid indictment; an indictment is facially valid so long as it sufficiently alleges all the essential elements of the offense; and the essential elements consist of what the State must prove in order to obtain a conviction.  But these basics are so pocked with exceptions, so piled with caveats, that few cases are resolved by reference to them alone.  Our appellate courts have decided a few cases in the last several months which illustrate this complexity.  This post attempts to provide a brief recurrence to fundamental principles applicable to indictments and to throw a lifeline to prosecutors who discover a potential defect during a trial.  My colleagues have blogged pretty frequently about indictment issues, most recently Shea Denning addressing a recent opinion here.

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