What is an indictment?
An indictment is the formal charging document that states the charges against a criminal defendant. An indictment is required in most criminal cases.
The fundamental rules governing the technical requirements of Georgia criminal indictments are stated in OCGA § 17-7-54:
(a) Every indictment of the grand jury which states the offense in the terms and language of this Code or so plainly that the nature of the offense charged may easily be understood by the jury shall be deemed sufficiently technical and correct. The form of every indictment shall be substantially as follows:
Georgia, _____ County.
The grand jurors selected, chosen, and sworn for the County of _____, to wit: _____, in the name and behalf of the citizens of Georgia, charge and accuse (name of the accused) of the county and state aforesaid with the offense of _____; for that the said (name of the accused) (state with sufficient certainty the offense and the time and place of committing the same), contrary to the laws of said state, the good order, peace, and dignity thereof.
(b) If there should be more than one count, each additional count shall state:
And the jurors aforesaid, in the name and behalf of the citizens of Georgia, further charge and accuse (name of the accused) with having committed the offense of _____; for that the said (name of the accused) (state with sufficient certainty the offense and the time and place of committing the same) contrary to the laws of said state, the good order, peace, and dignity thereof.
It is critical that any challenge to the form of a Georgia criminal indictment or accusation be filed within 10 days from the date of arraignment or such challenge to the indictment will be waived.
The Requirement of an Indictment in Georgia Felony Cases
Felony charges in Georgia must generally be brought by an indictment. OCGA § 17-7-70.1 provides some of the exceptions to the Georgia criminal indictment requirement:
(a)(1) In felony cases involving violations of the following:
(A) Code Sections 16-8-2, 16-8-14, 16-8-18, 16-9-1, 16-9-20, 16-9-31, 16-9-33, 16-9-37, 16-10-52, and 40-5-58;
(B) Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 16, relating to theft;
(C) Chapter 9 of Title 16, relating to forgery and fraudulent practices;
(D) Article 3 of Chapter 10 of Title 16, relating to escape and other offenses related to confinement; or
(E) Code Section 16-11-131, relating to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or first offender probationer,
in which defendants have either been bound over to the superior court based on a finding of probable cause pursuant to a commitment hearing under Article 2 of this chapter or have expressly or by operation of law waived a commitment hearing, the district attorney shall have authority to prefer accusations, and the defendants shall be tried on such accusations according to the same rules of substantive and procedural laws relating to defendants who have been indicted by a grand jury.