|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.
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
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.