Indictment is the finding of the Grand Jury that a crime probably occurred and charges may proceed against the defendant in Superior Court. The Grand Jury is a randomly selected group of Delaware citizens who consider evidence to see if there should be an indictment. Usually only the police officer testifies. Neither the defendant nor the attorneys are present. If the Grand Jury fails to indict, it is likely the case will not proceed any further. If the defendant is indicted, you will be notified of future court proceedings. The Grand Jury hearing is closed to the public. Information: If the defendant waives indictment, he/she can be charged by the prosecutor through the use of a document called an information. It is not uncommon for charges to be filed by information, especially in Kent and Sussex Counties.
The purpose of this review is to determine if bail can be reduced so that the defendant can be released from pretrial detention. This hearing can be held anytime and is open to the public. Bail review may be held in Magistrate Court, Municipal Court or the Court of Common Pleas if the defendant has not been indicted or an information filed. If the defendant has been indicted or an information filed, it is held in Superior Court.
The arraignment is held in Superior Court. The purpose is to read the charges to the defendant. At this time, the defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. This hearing can be waived by the defendant. This means that the defendant chooses not to have this hearing and will go to trial without it. This hearing is open to the public.
The case review is an informal meeting of the prosecutor and defense attorney to discuss plea agreement options and determine readiness for trial. If a plea agreement is signed, the defendant is brought into the courtroom for the official taking of the plea by the judge. The case review is not open to the public, however, since a plea may be entered in court by the defendant, you should talk to the prosecutor about whether to attend.
Felony trials are held in Superior Court. The purpose is to determine if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. The trial is usually scheduled 70 days after indictment or filing of an information, if no continuances are granted. However, due to current court backlogs, many cases take over a year to come to trial. You must testify if called as a witness. Check with the prosecutor before the trial date. Most felony trials are before a jury. However, some are tried with only a judge presiding. The jury in a criminal trial can: find the defendant guilty, guilty of a lesser charge, or not guilty. A mistrial may be declared if the jury fail to reach a unanimous decision. During trial, the judge can dismiss the charges or declare a mistrial for various reasons. Usually this has to do with evidence problems or rules of court procedure. The prosecutor will explain to you what happened if a dismissal/mistrial occurred. Superior Court trials are open to the public.