Indictment Definition

A grand jury's conclusion that a serious crime has occurred, and that it is reasonably probable that the defendant committed it. Prosecuting attorneys may generally choose how to charge a crime: by indictment or by using a criminal complaint. To proceed by way of indictment, the prosecutor will show the grand jury enough evidence to persuade them that the target of the investigation should be brought to trial. The target does not have a right to be present, and the proceeding is not public. By contrast, a criminal complaint is followed by a preliminary hearing, at which the defendant is present and where the defendant can question opposing witnesses and call witnesses of his own. When prosecutors want to charge someone but reveal as little as possible of their case and evidence, they often choose the indictment option. (See also: indictable offense)