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indictment(ĭndīt`mənt), in criminal lawcriminal law,
the branch of law that defines crimes, treats of their nature, and provides for their punishment. A tort is a civil wrong committed against an individual; a crime, on the other hand, is regarded as an offense committed against the public, even though only one
..... Click the link for more information. , 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 jurygrand jury,
in law, body of persons selected to inquire into crimes committed within a certain jurisdiction. It usually comprises a greater number than the trial, or petit (also, petty) jury, having since early common law days had between 12 and 23 members.
..... Click the link for more information. 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 procedureprocedure,
in law, the rules that govern the obtaining of legal redress. This article deals only with civil procedure in Anglo-American law (for criminal procedure, see criminal law).
..... Click the link for more information. ).
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1. a formal written charge of crime formerly referred to and presented on oath by a grand jury
2. any formal accusation of crime
3. Scot a charge of crime brought at the instance of the Lord Advocate
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005