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Encyclopedia > Indicted

In the common law legal system, an indictment is a formal charge of having committed a serious criminal offense. In those jurisdictions which retain the concept of a felony, the serious crime offence would be a felony; those jurisdictions which have abolished the concept of a felony often substitute instead the concept of an indictable offence, i.e. an offence which requires an indictment. Traditionally an indictment was handed down by a grand jury, but most common law jurisdictions (with the exception of those in the United States) have abolished grand juries.

In Australia, an indictment is issued by government official (the Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, or one of their subordinates). A magistrate then holds a committal hearing, which decides whether the evidence is serious enough to commit the person to trial.

In England and Wales (except in private prosecutions by individuals) an indictment is issued by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on behalf of the Crown, i.e. the monarch, presently Queen Elizabeth II--who is theoretically the plaintiff in all public prosecutions under English law. This is why a public prosecution of a man called Mr. Smith would be referred to as "R v Smith" (short for "Regina versus Smith", Regina being Latin for Queen). The head of the CPS is the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In cases where there is a trial, indictable offences are normally tried by jury, unless the accused waives the right to a jury trial. However, the vast majority of cases in the United States are settled via a plea bargain. In common law systems, the accused is not normally entitled to a jury trial if the offence with which they have been charged does not require an indictment; the main exception here is that jurisdictions in the United States grant the right to a jury trial for most criminal offences.

See also

  Results from FactBites:
indicts - OneLook Dictionary Search (78 words)
We found 4 dictionaries with English definitions that include the word indicts:
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indicts : Cambridge Dictionary of American English [home, info]
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