April 16, 2008 10:37 PM   Subscribe

Do all misdemeanor cases get to bypass the grand jury? Is there such a thing as a federal misdemeanor? I know FEDERAL capital offenses must go before a grand jury and each STATE handles this differently, ie NY both sides and a judge, no grand jury. But I am confused on this, test tommorrow!!
posted by madmamasmith to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Yes, there is such a thing as a federal misdemeanor.

There is no federal right to be indicted on a misdemeanor charge. Under the Fifth Amendment, there is a federal right to indictment or presentment of a grand jury on felony charges.

In some states you have a right, in any criminal case, not to be prosecuted for any criminal offense except upon indictment or presentment of a the grand jury. But such right would only be under state law. The Fifth Amendment right to grand jury indictment has not been incorporated against the states.
posted by jayder at 11:03 PM on April 16, 2008

A friend of mine pled to a federal misdemeanor rather than put himself further in debt clearing his name. But he was originally charged with oodles of felonies (the feds initially thought he was someone else) and those did go through a regular grand jury process. I don't know whether the GJ would've been involved if the original charge had been only a misdemeanor.
posted by Myself at 11:40 PM on April 16, 2008
posted by lockestockbarrel at 5:11 AM on April 17, 2008

In law school I worked in a clinic that represented people charged with Federal Misdemeanors (we were basically the public defenders, except as noted above, you don't actually have the right to an attorney for a Federal misdemeanor). Since the citations given looked a lot like parking tickets, many many people did not realize - until we told them at the court date - that they were pleading guilty to a federal misdemeanor by paying the fine.

I am not your lawyer, but if you have questions about the process, you can MeFi Mail me.
posted by Caz721 at 6:08 AM on April 17, 2008

Actually, a lot of federal misdemeanors ARE parking tickets. Be careful around those national parks and federal courthouses!
posted by QuantumMeruit at 8:11 AM on April 17, 2008

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