Indicted Definition Understanding the Meaning and Its Implications

For people without a legal background, some legal terms and expressions can be difficult to understand. “Indicted” is one such word. In this article, we will examine the indicted definition, its meaning in relation to the law, and the ramifications it has for those involved.

What is an Indictment?

A formal accusation or charge of committing a crime is made against a person in an indictment.  It begins the legal process and the first stage of a criminal investigation. A grand jury, a group of regular citizens, will typically deliver the indictment after reviewing the prosecution’s case and determining whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.

Object of a Charge

The main goal of an indictment is to protect suspects from arbitrary detention and prosecution. It ensures that a panel of objective citizens will review the evidence and decide if there is enough reason to proceed with a trial before restricting a person’s freedom. It protects individuals from unjustified charges and legal actions.

Grand Jury’s Role

The grand jury is a key component of the indictment procedure. The grand jury determines whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the accused committed the crime, as opposed to a trial jury, which renders a verdict on guilt or innocence during a trial.  Their proceedings are kept private to encourage witnesses to testify openly without concern for reprisal.

Process of Bringing Charges

Before issuing an indictment, certain procedures must be followed. The process typically starts when someone commits or reports a crime. Law enforcement investigates the incident, compiles data, and names suspects. When the investigation is over, the prosecutor decides whether to present the case to a grand jury.

Indictment Process

Before the grand jury, the prosecutor presents evidence and summons witnesses. The accused has no right to appear before the grand jury, and their lawyer is not present when the proceedings are taking place. The grand jury will issue an indictment if they believe there is enough evidence to support it.

Various Forms of Indictments

Direct Indictment

Without the assistance of a grand jury, a direct indictment might be brought in some circumstances. This typically occurs when there is strong evidence of guilt and a serious crime.

Indictable Offenses

Serious crimes, known as indictable offenses, are punishable by harsh punishments if found guilty. Theft of drugs, murder, and armed robbery are a few examples.

Sealed Indictment

The indictment is sealed and kept secret until the defendant is in custody. This precaution prevents the suspect from trying to escape before the indictment is carried out.

Reasons for Prosecution

The prosecution’s evidence forms the basis of the grand jury’s decision to indict a defendant. The proof must show that there is a good chance the defendant committed the crime. It is crucial to keep in mind, though, that an indictment merely indicates that there is sufficient evidence to move forward with a trial; it does not determine guilt.

Accused Person’s Rights

As per the legal system, the accused individual has certain rights throughout the indictment and trial process. These rights protect their interests and ensure a fair and just legal procedure.

Right to Counsel

The accused has the right to legal representation. If they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them.

Right to a Speedy Trial

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a speedy trial. This prevents lengthy pre-trial detentions without resolution.

Right to Confront Witnesses

The accused has the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses who testify against them during the trial.

Information vs. Indictment

In some jurisdictions, the prosecution may use information instead of a grand jury indictment. Information is a formal written accusation that the prosecutor submits, and it does not involve a grand jury.

Indictment dismissed

For a number of reasons, such as a lack of evidence, formal mistakes, or prosecutorial misconduct, an indictment may be thrown out. When an indictment is thrown out, the case is not tried.

Handling an Indictment

A person who has been charged with a crime must appear in court. They will either enter a guilty or not guilty plea. The trial process will then proceed accordingly.

Common Misconceptions

Many people misunderstand indictments in many ways. One common misconception is that someone is guilty if they are charged. As stated earlier, an indictment does not mean a conviction; it only means that there is enough evidence for a trial.

High-Profile Cases and Indictments

Celebrity or public figure cases that are highly publicized frequently garner a lot of media attention. The public’s scrutiny of these cases may have an impact on the legal proceedings.

Impact of Social Media on Indictments

In recent years, social media has had a significant impact on various aspects of society, including legal matters. The way information spreads online can influence public opinion and affect the handling of indictments.


To sum up, an indictment is an important step in the criminal justice process. It protects people from arbitrary arrests and guarantees a fair trial.  All citizens must comprehend the meaning of an indictment and the nuances of the indictment procedure. To successfully navigate the complicated legal system, you must seek legal counsel if you or someone you know has been charged with a crime.


Q1. Is it possible to contest or appeal an indictment?

It is possible to contest or appeal an indictment if there are good reasons to do so. An accomplished lawyer can help with this procedure.

Q2: Can an accusation be made without proof?

No, there must be enough proof to establish probable cause for an indictment.  An indictment cannot be made without proof.

Q3: Are grand jury hearings always kept under wraps?

Yes, grand jury proceedings are usually kept secret to protect witnesses and ensure an unbiased decision-making process.

Q4: How long does the process of bringing charges typically take?

Depending on how complicated the case is, the length of the indictment process can change. It could take weeks or even months to finish.

Q5: Can an indictment be permanently sealed?

Once the accused has taken into custody, indictments are usually made public. However, under certain conditions, they might stay sealed for a long time due to ongoing investigations or safety concerns.

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