The pre-indictment stage of the federal criminal process is complex. You will find a brief overview of it here, addressed generally to the interests of people who find themselves, their business partners or their organizations under investigation.
In general, pre-indictment refers to what happens before a federal charge. It leads up to your first court appearance for most cases, which is a hearing before a grand jury.
By the time you learn that you might face an indictment, it is possible that there would already be significant evidence against you — regardless of how agents portray the progress of the investigation. These investigations are typically meticulous and strategic.
It is possible, at this point, that professional investigators already believe they have a strong case against you. They might simply be hoping that you supply them with more evidence to use in their case. Your right to remain silent is one of the protections you might have in these situations, allowing you to provide only the information that will further your best interests.
Preparation for a hearing
The investigation would end once the federal prosecutor decides that there is enough evidence against you. At this point, you would prepare to present any argument or evidence that supports your case. Although it is rare, an ideal outcome at this point would be for the grand jury to not issue an indictment.
An indictment would result in a criminal charge. Shortly thereafter, what you might think of as the main criminal justice process begins. However, every stage of a defense — pre-indictment, trial and appeal — could be equally important in the eventual outcome of your case.