Pretrial: Information & Indictment

The information and the indictment are the formal charging instruments used by Texas courts to inform the defendant of what criminal behavior he is accused of.

An information is the charging instrument for most misdemeanor crimes. An information does not go to a grand jury. Rather, an information must be signed by a prosecutor and supported by a sworn complaint.

An indictment is the charging instrument for felony crimes. An indictment must be voted on a by a grand jury. The grand jury consists of twelve persons. To get an indictment, the prosecutor must persuade nine out of the twelve grand jurors that probable cause exists that the defendant is guilty. This is known as a “true-bill.” When the prosecutor fails to get nine votes, a “no-bill” occurs.

However, if the indictment is no-billed, the prosecutor can try again.

Furthermore, an accused person has no right to participate in a grand jury proceeding in Texas. An accused does not even have the right to know that a grand jury is considering his case.

An information will be forwarded to a misdemeanor court, typically a County Court, while a grand jury indictment will usually be forwarded to a District Court or Criminal District Court.

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