Indictment proceedings, invasion of privacy explained

7 months 1 day 2 hours ago Friday, February 23 2018 Feb 23, 2018 Friday, February 23, 2018 12:39:00 PM CST February 23, 2018 in News
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COLUMBIA - Governor Eric Greitens was indicted Thursday afternoon on a felony charge of invasion of privacy. The indictment alleged the taking and transmission of a nonconsensual photo.

Conversation about the indictment lead to some wondering what an indictment is and what the process would actually look like.

"An indictment means that a prosecutor got the jury to believe there was probable cause, probable cause doesn't mean a person is guilty," MU Law Professor Ben Trachtenberg said.

"It means a reasonable belief of guilt."

Trachtenberg said the process of indictment includes a few important steps. 

"The prosecutor goes into a grand jury and presents evidence either in the form of witnesses or evidence," Trachtenberg said.

"The grand jury would then decide whether or not there is probable cause, if so the prosecutor can sign it and turn it into a real indictment," Trachtenberg said.

Invasion of privacy is another term at the core of the indictment released on Thursday.

"If you take a photo of someone in the nude or partially nude in a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy there could be a criminal penalty," MU Communication Law Professor Brett Johnson said.

He also said Missouri's law on the invasion of privacy is a bit different in comparison to some other states. 

"What's really interesting about Missouri's law is that it's a criminal law and not a lot of states around the country make it a criminal law," Johnson said.

Trachtenberg also said understanding what words like indictment and invasion of privacy mean helps people better understand what could possibly come next.

"I think it can be confusing because it's legalistic and there's an assumption that the prosecutor wouldn't indict someone if it wasn't guilty," Trachtenberg said.

"But the whole point of having a trial or the right to trial is that an indictment is not the same as a conviction."  

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