A sealed indictment is an indictment kept from the public for a period of time until it is released. An indictment is a felony accusation issued by a grand jury against a suspect in a crime.
Indictments are issued after a jury determines that there is probable cause for guilt against an individual suspected of committing a felonious crime. Determination of guilt is based on evidence submitted by a public prosecutor such as witness testimony or physical evidence found at the scene of a crime.
Sealed indictments are issued by magistrates presiding over felony cases. A magistrate who orders an indictment to be sealed demands that it be kept secret until a specified time. Only those responsible for issuing a warrant against a suspect are made aware of an indictment while it is sealed.
Reasons an Indictment is Sealed
Indictments are sometimes sealed until the suspect is apprehended. Authorities may not want a suspect to know of the indictment in order to make apprehending him easier. Authorities also may want to keep an indictment out of the media spotlight for as long as possible.