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indictment

indictment (Ĭndīt´mənt), in criminal law, formal written accusation naming specific persons and crimes. Persons suspected of crime may be rendered liable to trial by indictment, by presentment, or by information. An indictment is issued by a grand jury when the jury's investigation is initiated by the public prosecutor's presentment of a bill of indictment. A presentment is an accusation issued by the grand jury on its own knowledge, without any bill of indictment having been previously drawn up by the prosecutor. An information is an accusation presented directly by the prosecutor without consideration by a grand jury. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution safeguards the right to a preliminary hearing by a grand jury in major federal cases. It provides in effect that no person outside military service may be tried in a federal court for a capital "or otherwise infamous" (i.e., a felony) crime except on indictment or presentment. Fewer than half of the states similarly require grand jury action. When an indictment or presentment is approved, the foreman of the grand jury marks it "true bill." Indictments, presentments, and informations are similar to the plaintiff's complaint in a civil action (see procedure).

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Indictment

INDICTMENT

A written accusation charging that an individual named therein has committed an act or omitted to do something that is punishable by law.

An indictment is found and presented by a grand jury legally convened and sworn. It originates with a prosecutor and is issued by the grand jury against an individual who is charged with a crime. Before such individual may be convicted, the charge must be proved at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

The purpose of an indictment is to inform an accused individual of the charge against him or her so that the person will be able to prepare a defense.

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indictment

in·dict·ment / inˈdītmənt/ • n. 1. Law a formal charge or accusation of a serious crime: an indictment for conspiracy. ∎  the action of indicting or being indicted: the indictment of twelve people who had imported cocaine. 2. a thing that serves to illustrate that a system or situation is bad and deserves to be condemned: these rapidly escalating crime figures are an indictment of our society.

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