An indictment in a federal drug case is no different than an indictment in any other kind of case. A federal prosecutor will take key pieces of information to a grand jury at a secret meeting where a Maryland federal defense attorney and the defendant are not permitted. A federal prosecutor has witnesses testify or presents evidence to a group of grand jurors who make a determination about whether or not the federal prosecutors have enough probable cause to charge or indict an individual for the particular criminal drug offense.
Whether someone is indicted before being arrested depends on the kind of charge that is alleged against a person. Sometimes, a person is charged with a drug offense immediately by a police officer based on the officer’s probable cause to assess the case.
An officer’s probable cause gets a felony case only so far. For the case to move through the system, the prosecutors must present the case to a judge who must find probable cause to proceed with the felony charges. Or the prosecutor has to present the case to a grand jury that finds the probable cause or the appropriate basis to have the case proceed on the felony charge.
When a person is arrested based on the officer’s probable cause, it is an arrest that happened before an indictment.
On the other hand, sometimes a person is not arrested based on an officer’s probable cause. An officer might conduct an investigation and present that information to the prosecutors. The prosecutors then make the determination about whether to send the case to a grand jury that determines if there is enough information for an indictment.
If the indictment is issued, the court issues a warrant for the person’s arrest at which point the person being arrested should get in contact with an experienced lawyer. When a person has an attorney who is in contact with the prosecutors before the indictment, the prosecutors give the defense attorney an opportunity to bring their client in to be processed on that indictment.
In other circumstances, federal agents locate the individual who is indicted and arrest them on the warrant once it is signed by the court. By contacting an attorney you are able to better dictate what is happening and show the court that you are complying.
When a person is indicted, it depends on the Federal System, but in Maryland, people typically find out about their indictment very quickly. Once an indictment takes place for the court to issue an arrest warrant, the Federal System has the resources to get the arrest warrant out very quickly.