Jameis Winston press conference means indictment unlikely

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The prosecutor investigating FSU quarterback Jameis Winston has announced a press conference without telling Winston of any charges. That means there probably aren't any charges.

The Jameis Winston investigation comes to a close Thursday. Either the Heisman Trophy frontrunner will be indicted for sexual assault, a charge almost certain to carry a felony count, or the prosecutor will decline to pursue the case. Given how Thursday's announcement has been scheduled, it looks unlikely that Winston will be prosecuted.

Update: Tomahawk Nation has obtained the unredacted Tallahassee Police report. Analysis of the detailed document shows it's very unlikely Winston will be charged with a crime.

Where are we?

On Wednesday, prosecutor Willie Meggs notified the media that he will hold a Thursday press conference regarding the Winston indictment at 2 p.m. ET. Typically, if a high-profile person represented by an attorney is to be indicted, the prosecutor will notify the alleged perpetrator's attorney and allow the lawyer to coordinate his client's surrender to police. A press conference would convene only after the accused had appeared or notified the prosecutor that he refused to voluntarily appear, necessitating an arrest.

Here, though, Meggs has announced the press conference without notifying Winston's attorney, Tim Jansen, of any charges:

"I don't know all the evidence that he has reviewed. We're not privvy to everything,'' Jansen told the Herald/Times. "We are confident that it will show that Mr. Winston did nothing wrong."

Jansen said he hopes to make Winston available to the media after Megg's [sic] announcement. "He will not answer specific questions but he will make a comment,'' he said. "It will depend on what Mr. Meggs does."

Meggs is unlikely to want either of those outcomes.

By calling the press conference and giving the media a jump start on staking out law enforcement offices before telling Winston or Jansen of his decision, Meggs makes an indictment logistically difficult -- Winston would have to fight through a throng of reporters to appear -- and gives the accused a chance to make a public statement before turning himself in. Meggs is unlikely to want either of those outcomes.

The Winston claims stem from an incident in December 2012 between Winston and his accuser. Later DNA samples have confirmed that Winston had a sexual encounter with the accuser, but the Florida State quarterback's side has told investigators that it was consensual. Winston's lawyer has also told reporters that there are two witnesses that corroborate his client's story.

Meggs' decision whether to prosecute Winston has been pending for weeks. In that time, there has been no news of additional evidence either incriminating or exonerating the Florida State quarterback, and the case still appears to be a question of consent. Prosecutors are generally reluctant to pursue a felony case on the victim's testimony alone.

What happens next?

If Meggs declines to prosecute the FSU quarterback, both Winston and his attorney will likely release a statement or hold a brief press conference, and that would end the investigation. Given that the Tallahassee Police Department and state's attorney conducted investigations and refused to pursue the case, the odds of any additional investigation are highly unlikely.

If, however, Meggs indicts Winston, the quarterback would have to appear for an arraignment. A judge would set bail, and could put travel restrictions on Winston. Generally, a judge will limit out-of-state travel. Given that the ACC Championship is played in North Carolina and the BCS National Championship Game in California, this could certainly be problematic. After all, it's not as if Winston could quietly skip town, play a nationally televised football game, and get back to Florida before anyone noticed.

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