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  1. #1
    Sesva is offline Junior Member
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    Arrest warrants versus indictment

    What is the name of your state? South Carolina

    Someone I know in SC was arrested and charged with 11 felony counts related to sexual molestation of a minor. Six charges are for criminal sexual solicitation of a minor. Five charges are for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

    The arrest was based on police interviews with the minor girls when one of the minors told her mother she had been molested.

    I recently read of several cases in SC being tossed out (technicality) because indictments were not issued prior to the arrest warrants being issued and executed.

    My questions are:

    1. Is an indictment in such a case necessary for police to obtain arrest warrants or can arrest warrants be issued based on information gathered by police through interviews with the minors?

    2. In the cases I mentioned being thrown out, there was some kind of ninety day rule. Is there a ninety day rule involving indictments that could cause such a case to be tossed out?

    One other: If somone has never been charged with a similar offense, can multiple counts and convictions result in someone being charged under SC's two "most serious offense" statutes which can result in an automatic life sentence without parole?What is the name of your state?
  2. #2
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sesva View Post
    What is the name of your state? South Carolina

    Someone I know in SC was arrested and charged with 11 felony counts related to sexual molestation of a minor. Six charges are for criminal sexual solicitation of a minor. Five charges are for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

    The arrest was based on police interviews with the minor girls when one of the minors told her mother she had been molested.

    I recently read of several cases in SC being tossed out (technicality) because indictments were not issued prior to the arrest warrants being issued and executed.

    My questions are:

    1. Is an indictment in such a case necessary for police to obtain arrest warrants or can arrest warrants be issued based on information gathered by police through interviews with the minors?

    2. In the cases I mentioned being thrown out, there was some kind of ninety day rule. Is there a ninety day rule involving indictments that could cause such a case to be tossed out?

    One other: If somone has never been charged with a similar offense, can multiple counts and convictions result in someone being charged under SC's two "most serious offense" statutes which can result in an automatic life sentence without parole?What is the name of your state?
    This is pretty serious stuff, what does your...err, your friend's lawyer say?
  3. #3
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
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    Yep, he's gonna need a lawyer big time.

    To answer your questions, indictments aren't needed to arrest people, just an arrest warrant.

    The 90 day rule covers the time between the arrest and indictment. It only dismisses the arrest (i.e., releases the guy from jail or bond). It doesn't prohibit indictment in the future. The 90 days can be extended if the prosecutor has a good reason.

    I'm not aware of the SC three strikes law, but the NC one requires the conviction on a charge to have been handed down before the commission of the next crime for it to count as a strike during the subsequent crime's trial.
  4. #4
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    1. Is an indictment in such a case necessary for police to obtain arrest warrants or can arrest warrants be issued based on information gathered by police through interviews with the minors?

    A: A case must be filed before an arrest warrant is issued.


    2. In the cases I mentioned being thrown out, there was some kind of ninety day rule. Is there a ninety day rule involving indictments that could cause such a case to be tossed out?

    A: I don't know.


    3. Should I stock up on KY jelly for my prison stay?

    A: Yes.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  5. #5
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorjudge View Post
    1. Is an indictment in such a case necessary for police to obtain arrest warrants or can arrest warrants be issued based on information gathered by police through interviews with the minors?

    A: A case must be filed before an arrest warrant is issued.
    Bull****. All you need to have is a statement of probable cause in front of the judge.
  6. #6
    garrula lingua is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    Bull****. All you need to have is a statement of probable cause in front of the judge.
    Agree with Ron.
    Search warrants and arrest warrants can be issued before a case is filed.
  7. #7
    Sesva is offline Junior Member
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    Will an indictment follow arrest?

    Quote Originally Posted by garrula lingua View Post
    Agree with Ron.
    Search warrants and arrest warrants can be issued before a case is filed.
    Obviously there are legal grounds for an arrest or he would not be charged with eleven serious felonies that could put him away for life. If someone has been arrested, is an indictment likely to follow (or necessary)? Or......is an indictment an investigative tool which can (or not) be used at the discretion of the prosecuter?
  8. #8
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
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    I have no clue what you mean an "indictment is an investigative tool."

    As I said earlier, arrest only requires probable cause. If you've got people attesting to the abuse with reasonable credibility, that's all you need.

    If the man is under arrest, they have 90 days to form up the actual specifics of the charge against him. Otherwise they have to release him, they can't hold him indefinitely (or hold the bond money) while they work up the case. The arrest just assures they have him in custody (or at least with substantial security for appearance) for when the charges go forward.

    Can they not indict him? Sure. Perhaps some new exculpatory evidence shows up. Perhaps despite the fact that they have probable cause, sufficient evidence isn't found or witnesses determined to conduct the prosecution.

    It's also possible that the charges will be dismissed after the indictment. There are a number of steps up to and including the trial.
  9. #9
    Sesva is offline Junior Member
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    Does everyone arrested in a warrant also have a grand jury investigation?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    I have no clue what you mean an "indictment is an investigative tool."

    As I said earlier, arrest only requires probable cause. If you've got people attesting to the abuse with reasonable credibility, that's all you need.

    If the man is under arrest, they have 90 days to form up the actual specifics of the charge against him. Otherwise they have to release him, they can't hold him indefinitely (or hold the bond money) while they work up the case. The arrest just assures they have him in custody (or at least with substantial security for appearance) for when the charges go forward.

    Can they not indict him? Sure. Perhaps some new exculpatory evidence shows up. Perhaps despite the fact that they have probable cause, sufficient evidence isn't found or witnesses determined to conduct the prosecution.

    It's also possible that the charges will be dismissed after the indictment. There are a number of steps up to and including the trial.
    Perhaps I am not framing the question properly. Let me try another route:

    He is already arrested. Are you saying that within ninety days of arrest, they must be ready to try the case at trial? Or are you indicating the ninety days relates to the time when they must detail the specifics of the justification for the arrest and all evidence collected?

    Is arrest and indictment required or can it be either/or/and both?

    My question about an indictment being used as in investigative tool: What is the purpose of a grand jury indictment if police (and prosecutors) feel they already have the evidence needed to prevail against a defendent?

    Is the indictment meant to be a second investigation by a grand jury in addition to the police investigation that was successful in obtaining warrants and holding him in jail on $301,000K bail?

    What's the purpose of the grand jury when police have what they need to convict?

    Is every defendent investigated by a grand jury in addition to the police investigation?

    I understand that a grand jury investigation can result in an indictment but the jury can also choose not to indict. Is there always a grand jury investigation for all arrests of a serious nature?

    I'm sure replies can be condensed. I may have not correctly framed the question so the above is meant to clarify what I'm trying to understand in general.
    Last edited by Sesva; 03-26-2008 at 11:12 AM.
  10. #10
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sesva View Post
    He is already arrested. Are you saying that within ninety days of arrest, they must be ready to try the case at trial? Or are you indicating the ninety days relates to the time when they must detail the specifics of the justification for the arrest and all evidence collected?
    Neither one. They have 90 days to obtain the indictment. This means they present the specific charges that they are going to charge him with to a court. This sets in motion the
    whole criminal process. He'll be notified of the charges, there will be potentially a preliminary hearing, arraignments, etc...

    Is arrest and indictment required or can it be either/or/and both?
    The arrest is not required. The arrest says, we have good reason to believe you broke the law, so we're going to take you into custody. If we let you out, we're going to do it on condition that you can be found for trial (most likely by paying a bond that you forfeit if you flee). It's not really part of the prosecution.

    The Indictment is required for all but the most minor offenses before you can be "held to answer in court."



    My question about an indictment being used as in investigative tool: What is the purpose of a grand jury indictment if police (and prosecutors) feel they already have the evidence needed to prevail against a defendent?
    The indictment isn't a tool, it's the instigation of the charge. To obtain the indictment, they prosecution must show the specifics of the incident they are charging and the exact law that is violated by that. If the grand jury agrees, you get charged. If the grand jury thinks it's invalid you don't.

    Is the indictment meant to be a second investigation by a grand jury in addition to the police investigation that was successful in obtaining warrants and holding him in jail on $301,000K bail?
    It's not an investigation at all, it's the precise expression of the crime and circumstance. Generally, all they need to have is the dates and circumstance (victim). The rest of the witnesses and evidence can be accumulated at any time prior to going to court.

    As I said, the 90 day rule is what keeps the arrest from being endless without the charges being laid out in the indictment.
    What's the purpose of the grand jury when police have what they need to convict?
    To provide a independent check that there is actually a reason to take someone to trial. It's to prevent the police/prosecutors from dragging people into court to harrass them.
    The Constitution of the US requires the grand jury step in "capital or infamous" crimes. South Carolina goes further and requires it of all crimes that aren't tried in the police/magistrate courts.

    Is every defendent investigated by a grand jury in addition to the police investigation?
    There are no defendants at this stage. There is only a determination as to whether there is enough particulars to indicate a crime has been committed. There's no requirement for "beyond a reasonable doubt." The prosecutors must obtain indictments on each person they wish to charge.
  11. #11
    Sesva is offline Junior Member
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    Then are police dragging their feet?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    Neither one. They have 90 days to obtain the indictment. This means they present the specific charges that they are going to charge him with to a court. This sets in motion the
    whole criminal process. He'll be notified of the charges, there will be potentially a preliminary hearing, arraignments, etc...


    The arrest is not required. The arrest says, we have good reason to believe you broke the law, so we're going to take you into custody. If we let you out, we're going to do it on condition that you can be found for trial (most likely by paying a bond that you forfeit if you flee). It's not really part of the prosecution.

    The Indictment is required for all but the most minor offenses before you can be "held to answer in court."




    The indictment isn't a tool, it's the instigation of the charge. To obtain the indictment, they prosecution must show the specifics of the incident they are charging and the exact law that is violated by that. If the grand jury agrees, you get charged. If the grand jury thinks it's invalid you don't.


    It's not an investigation at all, it's the precise expression of the crime and circumstance. Generally, all they need to have is the dates and circumstance (victim). The rest of the witnesses and evidence can be accumulated at any time prior to going to court.

    As I said, the 90 day rule is what keeps the arrest from being endless without the charges being laid out in the indictment.

    To provide a independent check that there is actually a reason to take someone to trial. It's to prevent the police/prosecutors from dragging people into court to harrass them.
    The Constitution of the US requires the grand jury step in "capital or infamous" crimes. South Carolina goes further and requires it of all crimes that aren't tried in the police/magistrate courts.


    There are no defendants at this stage. There is only a determination as to whether there is enough particulars to indicate a crime has been committed. There's no requirement for "beyond a reasonable doubt." The prosecutors must obtain indictments on each person they wish to charge.
    Ok here's the exact situation: He was investigated by the police last June and July based on statements three minors made involving sexual molestation. Based on interviews with the three minors, he was arrested last July in SC.

    He claims he has never had an arraignment but the courts there tell me they don't always arraign....the defendent is brought before a judge, charges are read, an attorney is appointed and a bond hearing is held.

    He claims he's been there since last July and not heard one word about when he will go to trial. He claims he's never been indicted since his arrest 8 months ago. Is this possible?

    He also says he's only talked to his public defender once in that 8 month period. I find this hard to believe. If I read you correctly, he has to have been indicted within 90 days of his arrest? If he wasn't and has not been indicted to date, is there a cause for dismissal of the 11 felony charges? Frankly I cannot see prosecutors risking having 11 serious felonies tossed out because they did not indict within 90 days. I'm not sure I am being told the truth.

    Is there a way to find out who in a given court's jurisdiction has been formally indicted?

    Again....would failure to indict within 8 months of an arrest be grounds for a judge to toss the case out?

    It sounds as you're saying all serious charges in a SC criminal court matter involving felonies must go to a grand jury investigation for possible indictment? By the way, the charges are all state charges.

    Having read some of the SC code regarding criminal sexual assault of a minor, my understanding is if someone crosses state lines to engage in sex with a minor, they can also face federal charges that carry a life sentence. Why would the state of SC not go the federal route when a life sentence seems more likely in federal court? The person charged lives in VA but alledgedly went to SC to engage in sex with the minors.

    This is my first time using this site. You guys are great!
    Last edited by Sesva; 03-27-2008 at 12:38 AM.
  12. #12
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sesva View Post
    He claims he has never had an arraignment but the courts there tell me they don't always arraign....the defendent is brought before a judge, charges are read, an attorney is appointed and a bond hearing is held.
    Bonds are usually set before arraignment.

    He claims he's been there since last July and not heard one word about when he will go to trial. He claims he's never been indicted since his arrest 8 months ago. Is this possible?
    I suppose anything is possible, but i find it unlikely.

    He also says he's only talked to his public defender once in that 8 month period. I find this hard to believe.
    Me too. I don't know what your relationship is to this person, but you might try helping him obtain private counsel.
    If I read you correctly, he has to have been indicted within 90 days of his arrest? If he wasn't and has not been indicted to date, is there a cause for dismissal of the 11 felony charges?
    No that's NOT what I said. I specifically told you that it has nothing to do with the dismissal of the charges. If he hasn't been indicted there are no charges yet to dismiss. The only thing the 90 day statute says is they must release him from arrest if they haven't indicted him by then. That doesn't mean they can't bring the indictment at a later time.
    Is there a way to find out who in a given court's jurisdiction has been formally indicted?
    Usually, some courts have computerized systems that are accessible, some don't. You can always head down to the court house and/or the police and try to dig up status yourself. Most arrests/indictments are public record.

    Again....would failure to indict within 8 months of an arrest be grounds for a judge to toss the case out?
    Again, I never said that. I keep correcting you when you assert this.
    It sounds as you're saying all serious charges in a SC criminal court matter involving felonies must go to a grand jury investigation for possible indictment? By the way, the charges are all state charges.
    That is correct.
    Having read some of the SC code regarding criminal sexual assault of a minor, my understanding is if someone crosses state lines to engage in sex with a minor, they can also face federal charges that carry a life sentence. Why would the state of SC not go the federal route when a life sentence seems more likely in federal court? The person charged lives in VA but alledgedly went to SC to engage in sex with the minors.
    The state can't try someone on a federal crime, a federal prosecutor would need to do that. Why the feds haven't been issued, I don't know. I've seen it happen before. Generally with 11 felony counts, it's quite possible he'll get an aggregate sentence that's effectively life anyway.
  13. #13
    garrula lingua is offline Senior Member
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    OP:
    A Prosecution can procede via indictment by grand jury OR by
    a complaint (aka 'Information') filed in a felony case.

    When a Prosecutor procedes by complaint/information, then a Preliminary Hearing is also held or waived by the Defendant. Basically, the PH is to show a criminal offense occurred and the defendant is the one who committed the offense.

    An indictment doesn't require a PH.

    Think of 'probable cause' - it is either proven by the PH (information filing) method or the grand jury method.

    I didn't look up your state to see how it procedes - whether by grand jury or complaint/information or by choice of Prosecutor (many Prosecutors file information/complaints on misdemeanors and grand jury on felony)

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