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What is an Indictment?

Updated on August 23, 2010

An indictment, in law, is a written statement that formally accuses a person of committing a specific crime. It is one of several ways to bring a suspected person to trial. A bill of indictment is usually prepared by a district attorney acting for the government and is presented to a grand jury with supporting evidence. If the grand jury approves it, the foreman of the jury signs it and it becomes a "true bill." The indictment is then filed with the proper court and a warrant for the arrest of the accused person is issued. The U.S. Constitution provides that no one can be accused of a serious federal crime without an indictment or an accusation framed by the grand jury.


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