Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    A written accusation against an individual charging Him with crime. See 32 N. C. 234.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    An indictment is 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, which, by law, is a public offense, punishable on indictment. Code Iowa 1880, § 4295 ; Pen. Code Cal. § 917; Code Ala. 1886, § 4364. And see Grin v. Shine, 187 U. S. 181, 23 Sup. Ct. 98, 47 L. Ed. 130; State v. Walker, 32 N. C. 236; Ex parte Hart, 63 Fed. 259, 11 C. C. A. 165, 28 L. R. A. 801; Ex parte Bain, 121 U. S. 1, 7 Sup. Ct. 781, 30 L. Ed. 849; Ex parte Slater, 72 Mo. 102; Finley v. State, 61 Ala. 201. A presentment differs from an indictment in that it is an accusation made by a grand jury of their own motion, either upon their own observation and knowledge, or upon evidence before them ; while an indictment is preferred at the suit of the government, and is usually framed in the first instance by the prosecuting officer of the government, and by him laid before the grand jury, to be found or ignored. An information resembles in its form and substance an indictment, but is filed at the mere discretion of the proper law officer of the government, without the intervention or approval of a grand jury. 2 Story, Const. §§ 1784, 1786. In Scotch law. An indictment la the form of process by which a criminal is brought to trial at the instance of the lord advocate. Where a private party is a principal prosecutor, he brings his charge in what is termed the "form of criminal letters."
    —Joint indictment. When several offenders are joined in the same indictment, such an indictment is called a "joint indictment;" as when principals in the first and second degree, and accessaries before and after the fact, are all joined in the same indictment. 2 Hale, P. C. 173; Brown.