Trump indicted: What is an indictment, a sealed indictment; when would a trial be held?

Former President Donald Trump was indicted Thursday by a grand jury in New York, setting into motion a legal process that will grab the attention of people around the world.

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Trump is expected to appear in New York on Tuesday to surrender and be formally arrested and booked on what has been said to be more than 30 felony counts.

Here is what we know about the legal steps to be taken as Trump prepares to return to New York.

What is an indictment?

An indictment is a formal notice that law enforcement authorities believe a person has committed a crime.

The indictment contains basic information about the charges against them.

What is a “sealed” indictment?

A sealed indictment means the grand jury process is conducted in secret and the criminal charges have not been made public.

Eventually, the criminal indictment will be unsealed and at that point, a warrant for the defendant’s arrest is issued.

What is a “speaking” indictment?

Sometimes prosecutors file a simple charging document that doesn’t reveal much information about the case.

However, sometimes prosecutors will lay out the case in detail in an indictment.

When they do that, it is known as a speaking indictment.

What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is a hearing in front of a judge. Typically, a judge will read the criminal charges against the person who has been indicted and ask them whether they understand what they are being charged with.

The person is then asked if they have an attorney or if they need the court to appoint one for them.

The person will then be asked how they plead to the charges — guilty, not guilty or no contest. If a person pleads no contest, that means that the person is not agreeing that they committed a crime, but they are willing to accept a conviction.

The judge will then make a decision on bail or the process that allows a person to be free until their trial. The person may be released on their own recognizance — meaning it is up to them to return to court on the day they are told to — or they may have to post a certain amount of money against the promise to return to court on the appointed day.

The judge will then set court dates for procedures such as a preliminary hearing — where a judge determines whether there is enough evidence to force the defendant to stand trial — in addition to pre-trial motions, and, eventually, the trial.

When would a trial be held?

It could take up to a year to go to trial if a trial is held in this case. If that happens, that means the trial would be taking place as the 2024 presidential election campaign is in full swing with primary voting taking place.

Trump has said he will fight the charges. His attorneys will ask the judge to dismiss the case.

In addition, a person charged with a crime is entitled to see the evidence prosecutors have gathered in their investigation. That information will include the minutes taken during the grand jury process.

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