The defendant has been indicted for a felony, and is in custody awaiting trial. The prosecutor decides to submit a superseding indictment to the grand jury, alleging the same offense but expanding the date range and adding a second victim. Unfortunately for the state, the grand jury returns “no true bill” on the superseding indictment.
What impact does the grand jury’s verdict have on the underlying case? Can the state still proceed on the original indictment? Should the defendant be released? May the state submit another superseding indictment and try again? If so, is there a limit to how many times?
These questions crossed my desk recently, and I discovered that the case law interpreting the key North Carolina statutes, G.S. 15A-629 and 646, is pretty thin on these issues. I also learned that other jurisdictions have reached dramatically different answers to the same questions. This post looks at the reasoning behind the competing views, and considers which approach is a better fit under our statutes and cases.