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When prosecutors add charges after an initial indictment

If you have been following news reports, you have likely heard of the college admission scandal that has ensnared celebrities, elite universities and others. Recently, a well-known actress, Felicity Huffman, agreed to plead guilty to charges in an initial indictment. Another celebrity, Lori Laughlin, and her husband have not yet reached a plea deal. Instead, they face additional charges that did not appear in the original filing. 

If prosecutors have charged you with violating state or federal law, you must read the indictment carefully to understand your legal risk. Unfortunately, though, you may not be out of the woods. In fact, prosecutors may add additional charges that you must defend against. 

Prosecutors may charge you for all criminal conduct 

When law enforcement officers investigate criminal activity, they interview witnesses, collect evidence and prepare reports. Prosecutors use information contained in police records to determine which charges to file against a defendant. In doing so, they evaluate evidence and decide which crimes they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt in court. It is not uncommon for prosecutors to bring criminal charges for only crimes with the strongest evidence. Nonetheless, prosecutors may charge you for all crimes they think you committed. 

Prosecutors may bring additional charges at any time 

Criminal defendants often feel like celebrating after an initial indictment. After all, if prosecutors only charge you with a couple of minor offenses, you may think you have dodged a bullet. That may not be the case, however. On the contrary, prosecutors may bring additional charges essentially at any time, provided they do not violate your right to due process. Of course, once the statute of limitations expires, prosecutors may no longer file criminal charges against you. 

For most, facing criminal charges is incredibly stressful. After all, your liberty and finances may be in jeopardy. By understanding why and when prosecutors choose to bring additional criminal charges, you can better plan for your criminal defense.

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