- b : the state of being indicted
2: a formal written statement framed by a prosecuting authority and found by a jury (as a grand jury) charging a person with an offense 3: an expression of strong disapproval <an indictment of government policy on immigrants>
In the common law legal system, an indictment (pronounced /ɪnˈdaɪtmənt/ in-DITE-mənt) is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In those jurisdictions which retain the concept of a felony, the serious criminal offence would be a felony; those jurisdictions which have abolished the concept of a felony often substitute the concept of an indictable offence, i.e. an offence which requires an indictment.
Traditionally an indictment was handed up by a grand jury, which returned a "true bill" if it found cause to make the charge, or "no bill" if it did not find cause. Most common law jurisdictions (except for much of the United States) have abolished grand juries.
A direct indictment is one in which the case is sent directly to trial before a preliminary inquiry is completed or when the accused has been discharged by a preliminary inquiry. It is meant to be an extraordinary, rarely used power to ensure that those who should be brought to trial are in a timely manner or where an error of judgment is seen to have been made in the preliminary inquiry.
An indictment can be sealed so that it stays non-public until it is unsealed. This can be done for a number of reasons. It may be unsealed, for example, once the named person is arrested or has been notified by police.