Indictment

Indictment in the United States

Contents:

A formal accusation brought by a grand jury. If a grand jury decides by a majority vote to return a “true bill;” an indictment is issued after consideration of evidence presented by a prosecutor. A true bill represents a grand jury finding that the prosecutor has established probable cause that a person has committed a crime. The true bill also reflects the grand jury’s finding that it is reasonable to make a person stand trial on a criminal charge. The true bill is itself an accusation. Grand jury decisions to indict need not be unanimous. Indeed, most of the states that use grand juries require a two-thirds or three-quarters majority to return an indictment. If a grand jury does not indict at the request of a prosecutor, the case can generally be reintroduced before another grand jury.

See Also

Grand Jury (Criminal Process);

Information (Criminal Process).

Analysis and Relevance

The indictment is a means of protecting individuals from arbitrary or unjust prosecution. It is part of the complex winnowing process aimed at preventing individuals from having to undergo the stress and expense of trial unless substantial evidence of wrongdoing exists. Indictment retlects the grand jury s accusatorial function. Grand juries are also used as a means of information gathering. Under terms of the Fifth Amendment, a grand jury indictment is required in the prosecution of federal offenses, at least for serious crimes. In addition, thirty-two states use grand juries for at least some of their criminal cases. While the grand jury system remains in many states, it tends to be inefficient and expensive. The alternative to indictment is the information, a preliminary hearing process where a prosecutor directly petitions a court to bring criminal charges.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Indictment from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Indictment Definition

In criminal practice. A written accusation against one or more persons of a crime or misdertieanor, presented to, and preferred upon oath or affirmation by, a grand jury legally convoked. 4 Bl. Comm. 299; Co. Litt. 126; 2 Hale, P. C. 152; Bac. Abr.; Comyn, Dig.; 1 Chit. Grim. Law, 168. An accusation at the suit of the crown, found to be true by the oaths of a grand jury. A written accusation of one or more persons of a crime or misdemeanor, preferred to and presented on oath by a grand jury, and by assent of twelve at least. 12 Conn. 452. The word is said to be derived from the old French word inditer, which signifies to indicate, to show, or point out. Its object is to indicate the offense charged against the accused. Rey des Inst. I’Angl. torn. 2, p. 347. A distinction has been taken between indictment and presentment, the former being a bill of indictment presented to the grand jury by the prosecuting officer, and by it found to be a true bill; while the latter is a return made by the grand jury of its own motion, upon which a bill of indictment was subsequently framed. 4 Bl. Comm. 301; 7 Grat. (Va.) 631. This distinction is no longer of much practical importance; an indictment in modern practice being both a finding and a presentment. See 9 Gray (Mass.) 290.

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Legal Issue for Attorneys

In criminal practice. A written accusation against one or more persons of a crime or misdertieanor, presented to, and preferred upon oath or affirmation by, a grand jury legally convoked. 4 Bl. Comm. 299; Co. Litt. 126; 2 Hale, P. C. 152; Bac. Abr.; Comyn, Dig.; 1 Chit. Grim. Law, 168. An accusation at the suit of the crown, found to be true by the oaths of a grand jury. A written accusation of one or more persons of a crime or misdemeanor, preferred to and presented on oath by a grand jury, and by assent of twelve at least. 12 Conn. 452. The word is said to be derived from the old French word inditer, which signifies to indicate, to show, or point out. Its object is to indicate the offense charged against the accused. Rey des Inst. I’Angl. torn. 2, p. 347. A distinction has been taken between indictment and presentment, the former being a bill of indictment presented to the grand jury by the prosecuting officer, and by it found to be a true bill; while the latter is a return made by the grand jury of its own motion, upon which a bill of indictment was subsequently framed. 4 Bl. Comm. 301; 7 Grat. (Va.) 631. This distinction is no longer of much practical importance; an indictment in modern practice being both a finding and a presentment. See 9 Gray (Mass.) 290.

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Notice

This definition of Indictment Is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This definition needs to be proofread..

Practical Information

Note: Some of this information was last updated in 1982

An accusation in writing found and presented by a grand jury, legally convoked and sworn, to the court in which it is impaneled, charging that a person therein named has done some act, or been guilty of some omission, that, by law, is a public offense, punishable on indictment.

(Revised by Ann De Vries)

What is Indictment?

For a meaning of it, read Indictment in the Legal Dictionary here. Browse and search more U.S. and international free legal definitions and legal terms related to Indictment.

Indictment

United States Constitution

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, about its article titled INDICTMENTAn indictment is a formal written accusation charging an individual with a crime. An indictment is issued by a grand jury when, in its view, there is probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime.Indictments generally arise in two ways. Most commonly, a prosecutor
(read more about Constitutional law entries here).

Some Constitutional Law Popular Entries

Concept of Indictment

In the U.S., in the context of Judiciary power and branch, Indictment has the following meaning: In criminal law, an indictment is a formal written accusation submitted to a court by a grand jury alleging that a specific person has committed a specific crime, usually a felony. An indictment is a method of charging someone with the commission of one or more offenses and indicating to the court that there are sufficient grounds to proceed with a trial. (Source of this definition of Indictment : University of Texas)

Indictment

Indictment and Arrest Explained

References

See Also

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure

Resources

See Also

  • Judiciary Power
  • Judiciary Branch

Indictment and Arrest Explained

References

See Also

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure

Resources

See Also

  • Legal Topics.
  • Further Reading (Articles)

    Indictments Depict Noriega As Drug-Trafficking Kingpin; U.S. Had Long Backed Panamanian Leader, The Washington Post; February 6, 1988; Joe Pichirallo

    Indictment: NH Teens Targeted Others, AP Online; February 19, 2002; HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writer

    GANG INDICTMENTS GROW, Post-Tribune (IN); November 19, 2011

    INDICTMENT CHARGES JAILED JOHNSTON MAN WITH CONNING INVENTOR, DEFRAUDING INVESTORS, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; March 27, 2009

    INDICTMENTS RETURNED AGAINST MEMPHIS CITY COUNCILMEN PEETE, FORD, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; December 19, 2006

    INDICTMENT DEPICTS DRUG SCHEME, The Boston Globe (Boston, MA); January 7, 1990; Michael Kranish, Globe Staff

    FEDERAL INDICTMENTS UNSEALED IN CASE INVOLVING TRAFFICKING OF COUNTERFEIT GOODS, MONEY LAUNDERING, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; September 29, 2006

    Indictment, American Law Yearbook 2007; January 1, 2008

    INDICTMENT RETURNED AGAINST FORMER MED EMPLOYEE, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; December 20, 2006

    Indictment Says Charity Official Funded Liaisons; Aramony Is Accused Of Soliciting Workers, The Washington Post; September 22, 1994; Charles E. Shepard

    Indictment of ex-governor lays out web of corruption, International Herald Tribune; April 4, 2009; Monica Davey and Susan Saulny The New York Times

    Iraq says Lebanon indictment to be delayed. The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon); December 18, 2010

    Lebanon braces for indictment. The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon); June 28, 2011

    SIXTEEN NAMED IN FEDERAL INDICTMENTS. States News Service; March 4, 2010

    Public Corruption Indictments Returned in Hammond Federal Court April 16, 2014, States News Service; April 16, 2014

    A 22-COUNT INDICTMENT WAS FILED AGAINST 6 PEOPLE IN CONNECTION WITH A MAJOR FRAUD AGAINST ST. PAUL CROATIAN FEDERAL CREDIT UNION IN EASTLAKE, OHIO, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; May 16, 2011

    New Indictments and Sentencing Updates for Fraudulent Oil Spill Claims, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; July 12, 2012

    THREE NAMED IN FEDERAL INDICTMENTS. States News Service; June 17, 2010

    INSURANCE COMMISSIONER SEVIGNY, ATTORNEY GENERAL AYOTTE ANNOUNCE INDICTMENTS FOR AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE RELATED CRIMES, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; October 1, 2007

    Grand Jury Returns Superseding Indictments in Homestead-Area Drug and Gun Cases, States News Service; August 7, 2013

    “No Bill” Meaning in Law Enforcement

    Also referred to as “not a true bill,” the “no bill” is the decision by the grand jury not to indict a person.

    Indictment Meaning in Law Enforcement

    The written formal charge of a crime by the grand jury, returned when 12 or more grand jurors vote in favor of it.

    Indictment Definition in the context of the Federal Court System

    The formal charge issued by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence that the defendant committed a crime to justify having a trial; it is used primarily for felonies. See also “information.”

    Indictment: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

    Federal Primary Materials

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    Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Indictment and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Indictment or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

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    State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Indictment and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Indictment. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Indictment should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

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