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"Infamous crimes"--part 2:

Your home page is a superlative example of the educational usefulness of the Internet. It's well designed, easy to navigate, and very informative to the layman.

I have three questions relating to the Fifth Amendment's first clause: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury..."

1. In actual practice, is every murder indictment the result of a grand jury deliberation, or can a state or federal prosecutor sometimes indict a murder suspect without using a grand jury?

2. Has the phrase "infamous crime" been used as justification for convening a grand jury?

3. Has anyone ever been indicted for an "infamous crime" without a grand jury having been convened?


Response:  (1) No one can be "indicted" without a grand jury, because an indictment is a charging document that has been approved by a grand jury.  A prosecutor can charge someone with murder without using a grand jury if the jurisdiction does not require that an indictment be used for serious ("infamous") crimes.  In the federal system, murder must be charged by indictment unless you waive your right to indictment, in which case you can be charged by an information, which is a charging document a prosecutor brings without using a grand jury.  In many states, a prosecutor doesn't have to use a grand jury if he or she doesn't want to, and so can charge serious crimes by using an information instead of an indictment. (2) Grand juries investigate to determine if infamous crimes have been committed, so in that sense infamous crimes are commonly used to justify convening a grand jury.  (3) Again, you can't be indicted without a grand jury.

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