As someone unfamiliar with the intricacies of the American criminal justice system, I found myself perplexed by the legal proceedings surrounding the indictment of former President Donald Trump. However, after conducting research, primarily utilizing Bing’s AI-powered features, I have gained a clearer understanding of the matter.
Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, although the specific charge or charges have not been disclosed since the indictment is currently under seal. The case is related to hush money payments made by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election. While the payment of hush money is not itself illegal, the potential crime involves how these payments were documented in the Trump Organization’s records, triggering charges under New York state law for falsifying business records.
An indictment is a formal accusation of a serious crime by a grand jury. It is not a conviction or a proof of guilt. Here are the steps before and after an indictment in the US:
- Before an indictment, a prosecutor must present evidence to a grand jury, which is a group of citizens who decide whether there is probable cause to charge the suspect with a crime. The grand jury proceedings are secret, and the suspect does not have the right to attend or have a lawyer present. The grand jury can ask questions, request more evidence, or subpoena witnesses. The prosecutor needs a majority vote from the grand jury to obtain an indictment.
- After an indictment, the suspect becomes a defendant and is formally notified of the charges against them. The defendant has the right to a speedy and public trial by a jury of their peers, to be represented by a lawyer, to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against them, and to present their own evidence and witnesses. The prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury must reach a unanimous verdict of guilty or not guilty. If the jury cannot agree, the judge may declare a mistrial and order a new trial. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence according to the law.
Hopefully, this helps other people who have the same questions.