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What is a secret indictment and could they get the grand jury to indict on the word of 2 people who were involved in the crimes

Lowell, MA |

my nephew is incarcerated in n.h. and he just found out they secretly indicted him on unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and other charges

Attorney Answers 4


A secret (or sealed) indictment is an indictment whose existence has not been released to the public. All proceedings before the grand jury are done in secret. When the District Attorney (in Massachusetts) presents a case to the grand jury the DA presents the Grand Jury with a letter. The letter is called a bill. The bill is a written request that the grand jury charge a specific person with a crime. If the DA is not certain who the person is they present a "John Doe" letter. If the grand jury votes to charge the person the grand jury marks the bill as a "true bill". A "true bill" is an indictment. If the Grand Jury votes not to charge the person the grand jury marks the bill as a "no bill". The "true bills" or indictments are then delivered by the Grand Jury to the presiding judge in the Superior Court. This is done in open court and the foreperson of the grand jury literally hands the true bills (and the no bills) to the Judge. It is at this point that the District Attorney can ask that a "true bill" (indictment) be sealed or impounded so that the public will not have access to it or be made aware of its existence. That is typically done when the DA fears that a person will flee if they are made aware that an indictment has been filed against them. Your nephew is in jail so it is not likely that he will flee anywhere. The grand jury may absolutely rely on the word of two people who were involved - or even one person who was involved. Good Luck.

Robert D. Lewin, Attorney
(Practice Limited to Massachusetts)
Offices in Malden, MA and Andover, MA

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An indictment is always secret as the grand jury process is not open to the public. Only the state's story is presented, and based on that, the grand jury determines whether there is enough evidene to go forward.

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Grand juries are always secret as the other poster told you. In addition, the Grand Jury can indict on the testimony of one, two or any number of witnesses. The old saying is that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if asked to.

Your nephew needs a lawyer.

The above information does not establish an attorney client relationship nor is it meant to provide legal advice.

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Secret indictment merely means that it has not been communicated to the public. The answer to your question is yes.

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