What Happens If You Are Not Indicted Within 180 Days?

What Happens If You Are Not Indicted Within 180 Days

What happens if you are not indicted within 180 days? 

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • getting out of jail
  • your case getting thrown out
  • the government giving themselves more time
  • jurisdictions that don’t have this rule
  • what happens after an indictment
  • grounds for dismissal of an indictment
  • can charges get brought back up after dismissal
  • can charges get dropped after an indictment
  • how long can you get held in jail

Let’s dig in. 

Table of Contents

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What Happens If You Are Not Indicted Within 180 Days?

If you are not indicted within 180 days, the outcome and consequences can vary depending on the:

  • jurisdiction
  • circumstances of the case
  • applicable laws

In the U.S., the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guards your right to a speedy trial. 

The Speedy Trial Act and other laws also push for trials to happen quickly.

  • Getting Out of Jail: If you’re in jail and not indicted in time, you might get out. This is because many places have rules. These rules say the government must charge you within a certain time if you’re in jail.
  • Case Thrown Out: The case could be thrown out if there’s no indictment in time. But, you might face charges again later. The exceptions are if double jeopardy is in play or time runs out under the statute of limitations.
  • More Time for The Government: Sometimes, courts give the government more time to indict. This happens if there’s a good reason, like too many cases piling up, witnesses not around, or something unusual.
  • Charged Later: If you’re not in jail, the government can still charge you later. This can only happen if it’s within the time frame set by the statute of limitations for the crime.
  • No 180-Day Rule: Some places don’t have a 180-day rule. For certain crimes or in certain states, not being indicted in 180 days might not matter.

Legal rules can be tricky and change based on location. 

If you’re in legal trouble or think you might be, talk to a defense lawyer. 

They can help you understand the laws and rules for your situation.

Read More: Can Charges Be Dropped At An Arraignment Hearing

Getting Out of Jail If You Are Not Indicted Within 180 Days

If you’re in jail waiting for charges, there’s a time limit. 

The government has to indict you within a certain number of days. 

This time limit varies by location.

In many places, the limit is 180 days. 

This means the government must formally charge you within this time.

If they don’t indict you within 180 days, you could get out of jail. 

This happens because the law says you can’t be held too long without being charged.

But, getting out doesn’t always mean you’re free for good. 

The government might still charge you later.

Sometimes, if the case is special, the court may give the government extra time. 

This means you might stay in jail longer before they charge you.

So, if you’re in jail and 180 days pass without an indictment, you could be released. 

But, this depends on the rules in your area and the specifics of your case.

Read More: What Happens If Charges Are Dropped Before Court

Case Thrown Out If You Are Not Indicted Within 180 Days

If the government doesn’t indict you within 180 days, the court might throw out your case. 

This means the case ends and you don’t go to trial. 

But, this isn’t a final goodbye to the charges. 

The government can bring them back later. 

There are two exceptions. 

First, if the court says you can’t be tried for the same thing twice, known as double jeopardy. 

Second, if too much time passes and the statute of limitations expires. 

In these cases, the government can’t charge you again. 

Sometimes the 180-day rule doesn’t apply, so the case might not get thrown out even if you’re not indicted in time.

Read More: Rights Police Don’t Want You To Know About

More Time For The Government

Sometimes, the government gets extra time to indict you, even if 180 days have passed. 

Courts can grant this extension. 

They do it if there’s a good reason. 

For example, if the courts are very busy, they might need more time. 

Sometimes witnesses aren’t available. In that case, the court might wait for them. 

There could also be other special situations that make the court give more time. 

This means that even if 180 days are over, the government can still bring charges against you. 

The court decides if the reasons are valid for the extra time.

Read More: Can You Bail Yourself Out Of Jail

No 180-Day Rule

In some places, there is no strict rule that says you must be indicted within 180 days. 

This means the government doesn’t have to hurry to bring charges against you. 

Different areas have different rules. Some crimes might not even have a set time frame for indictment. 

In these cases, if 180 days pass and you’re not indicted, nothing special happens. 

The government can still bring charges later, as long as it’s within the time allowed by law. 

This could be months or even years. 

The key point is that the 180-day mark isn’t a magic number everywhere. 

The rules on when you must be indicted vary.

Read More: How Long Does It Take To Get A Search Warrant?

What Happens After An Indictment?

After an indictment, several steps follow:

  1. Arraignment: This is your first court appearance. The judge reads the charges against you. You, or your lawyer, will respond by pleading guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  2. Bail Hearing: Here, the judge decides if you can leave jail until your trial. They consider things like the crime’s severity and if you might run away.
  3. Discovery: Both the prosecutor and your defense attorney share evidence. They swap witness lists, police reports, and any other relevant information.
  4. Pre-Trial Motions: Lawyers on both sides may ask the judge to decide on certain matters. These can be about the evidence or the way the trial will be conducted.
  5. Plea Bargaining: This is a negotiation. You may plead guilty to a lesser charge, or for a lighter sentence. If you and the prosecutor agree, the trial may not be needed.
  6. Trial: If no plea deal is reached, the case goes to trial. Witnesses testify and evidence is presented. Then, the jury decides if you’re guilty or not.
  7. Sentencing: If you’re found guilty, the judge decides your punishment. This is based on guidelines for the crime, and other factors like past crimes or the crime’s impact.

Each step can affect your case’s outcome. 

It’s crucial to understand them and to have a good defense strategy.

Read More: How Long Does A Probation Officer Have To Violate You?

Indicted vs Arrested

When you get arrested, the police take you into custody. 

They think you broke the law. 

An arrest can happen on the spot if the police see you doing something illegal. 

Or, it can happen later if they have enough evidence.

Being indicted is different. 

It means a group of citizens, called a grand jury, reviewed some evidence. 

They think there’s enough evidence to charge you with a crime. 

It’s a formal way to accuse someone of a serious crime.

Now, let’s compare the two:

  • Arrested: Police take you in because they believe you did something wrong. It’s the first step in the legal process.
  • Indicted: A grand jury looks at the evidence and decides if you should be charged. It’s a later step and is used for serious crimes.

The two can be linked. 

You might get arrested first. 

Then, the case goes to a grand jury. 

If they think there’s enough evidence, you get indicted. 

But sometimes, the indictment can come first, and then you get arrested.

So, being arrested means the police take you in. 

Being indicted means a grand jury thinks there’s enough evidence for a serious charge. 

Both are part of the legal process, but they happen at different stages and for different reasons.

Read More: What Does Disposed Mean In Court?

Grounds For Dismissal Of Indictment

Grounds for dismissal of an indictment are reasons why a court throws out criminal charges. 

Here are some common grounds for dismissal of indictments:

  • Lack of Evidence: If there’s not enough evidence to support the charges, the court can dismiss the indictment.
  • Expired Statute of Limitations: Courts dismiss cases if too much time has passed since the alleged crime. This is called the statute of limitations.
  • Violation of Right to Speedy Trial: If the government takes too long to bring a case to trial, it can be dismissed. This right protects people from lengthy legal processes.
  • Improper Grand Jury Procedure: If the grand jury didn’t follow the correct procedures, the indictment can be thrown out. For example, if important evidence was left out.
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct: If the prosecutor does something unethical, like hiding evidence, the court may dismiss the indictment.
  • Insufficient Evidence in the Indictment: The indictment itself must have enough details. If it doesn’t clearly say what the person did wrong, the court can dismiss it.
  • Double Jeopardy: If someone was already tried for the same crime, they can’t be indicted again. This protection is called double jeopardy.
  • Violation of Constitutional Rights: If the police or prosecutors violated someone’s rights, like searching without a warrant, the indictment can be dismissed.
  • Defective Indictment: If there’s a big mistake in the indictment, like charging someone for a crime that doesn’t exist, it can be thrown out.

In short, indictments can be dismissed for various reasons – from not enough evidence to legal mistakes. 

When these issues are found, the court throws out the charges to ensure fairness and justice.

Can Charges Be Brought Back Up After Being Dismissed?

Yes, charges can be brought back after being dismissed. 

Here’s how it works:

When a case is dismissed, it means the court has thrown it out. 

But this doesn’t always mean it’s over for good.

There are two types of dismissals: with prejudice and without prejudice.

  • Dismissed With Prejudice: If a case is dismissed with prejudice, it’s final. The charges can’t be brought back. This means you won’t face those charges again for the same incident.
  • Dismissed Without Prejudice: If a case is dismissed without prejudice, it’s not final. The charges can be brought back. The prosecutor can refile the charges or take the case to a grand jury for an indictment.

There’s also something called the statute of limitations. 

It’s like a countdown. 

It sets how much time the government has to charge you for a certain crime. 

If the statute of limitations runs out, the charges can’t be brought back, even if the case was dismissed without prejudice.

In some cases, double jeopardy comes into play. 

Double jeopardy means you can’t be tried for the same crime twice. 

If you were already tried and the case was dismissed during the trial, double jeopardy might prevent the charges from being brought back.

Knowing the type of dismissal and understanding the rules of double jeopardy and the statute of limitations is key to knowing if charges can be brought back.

FAQs About What Happens If You Are Not Indicted Within 180 Days

Here are other questions clients ask us related to what happens if you are not indicted within 180 days. 

Can Charges Be Dropped After Indictment?

Yes, charges can be dropped after an indictment.

Here’s how it can happen:

  • Prosecutor’s Decision: Sometimes, a prosecutor may decide to drop the charges. This might be due to lack of evidence or if new information makes the case weaker.
  • Plea Bargaining: A defendant might agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. In exchange, the prosecutor drops the more serious charges.
  • Judge’s Order: A judge can throw out the charges. This can happen if the judge thinks there’s not enough evidence. The judge might also do this if the defendant’s rights were violated.
  • Successful Motion: The defendant’s lawyer can ask the court to drop the charges. This is called a motion to dismiss. If the lawyer makes a strong case, the judge might agree to drop the charges.
  • Grand Jury Intervention: In some cases, a grand jury can decide not to indict. This means they don’t think there’s enough evidence. When this happens, the charges are dropped.

How Long Can A Felony Case Be Pending?

A felony case can be pending for different lengths of time.

When someone is arrested, the case starts. 

The prosecutor looks at the evidence and decides whether to file charges. 

This usually happens quickly, often within a few days.

Next is the arraignment. 

This is when the accused hears the charges and pleads guilty or not guilty. 

This often happens within a month after the arrest.

The case then moves into the pre-trial phase. 

Here, lawyers on both sides gather evidence. 

They might negotiate a plea deal. 

This phase can take several months.

If no deal is made, the case goes to trial. 

The time it takes to get to trial varies. 

It depends on how busy the courts are and how complex the case is. 

This can add more months to the process.

Now, consider the Speedy Trial Act. 

It says that a trial must start within 70 days of charges being filed. 

But there are exceptions. 

If there are delays for good reasons, like gathering evidence, the clock can pause.

Another factor is the statute of limitations. 

This sets a deadline for when charges can be filed. 

For some felonies, it might be a few years. 

For others, there is no time limit.

How Long Can You Be Held In Jail Without Being Convicted?

The length of time you can be held in jail without being convicted depends on several factors:

  • Arrest and Booking: After getting arrested, you’re taken to jail. Usually, you won’t stay long. The police have a short time, often 48 to 72 hours, to charge you. If they don’t, you’re released.
  • Bail Hearing: After you’re charged, you usually have a bail hearing. This might happen quickly, often within 48 hours. The judge decides if you can leave jail until trial. They might let you go, possibly with conditions, or make you pay bail. If you can’t pay, you stay in jail.
  • Speedy Trial Rights: The law says you have the right to a speedy trial. This means the government can’t keep you in jail for too long without convicting you. In the U.S., federal law generally wants your trial to start within 70 days of charges being filed. States have their own rules, and the time can vary.
  • Delays and Exceptions: Sometimes, there are delays. The defense or prosecution might need more time. The court might be really busy. If the case is complex, it might take longer. These delays can extend how long you’re in jail without conviction.
  • Case-Specific Factors: Finally, details about your case matter. If the crime was very serious, or if you’re seen as a flight risk, the judge might be less likely to let you out on bail.

Hire A Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing an indictment, fill out the form on this page.

Our criminal defense attorneys have the experience you need to defend your rights.

This way, you don’t:

  • get wrongfully convicted
  • spend months or years in jail needlessly
  • get wrongfully accused of a serious crime by police officers

You deserve a fair trial in the criminal justice system.

We can provide you with that.

Talk soon.

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