Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Accusation Definition:

The formal criminal charge against a person which specifies the essential ingredients in regards to the alleged offence such as time and place and the relevant reference to the criminal law allegedly breached.

Related Terms: Accused, Indictment, Information

Also known as indictment or the information, the latter forming the complaint per se.

Criminal prosecuting agencies will often receive an information from a private citizen or a police officer in regards to suspected criminal activity and from that, if circumstances warrant, will issue a formal charge against the suspect; the latter, the accusation but often simply the information itself with or without further endorsement.

In Ballentine's Law Dictionary:

"Accusation: A declration or statement that another person is guilty of some offense or misconduct. A formal charge of the commission of a crime, such as a complaint, information or affidavit. Informing accused of nature and contents of charge."

In State v Kearns, Justice Bench wrote, at ¶15:

"Defendant has a constitutional right ... to receive a free copy of the nature and cause of the accusation filed against him. The State's obligation was met by providing a copy of the Information. There is no constitutional right to free copies of discoverable material not deemed constitutionally necessary to apprise Defendant of the particulars of the charged acts."


  • Ballentine, James A., Ballentine's Law Dictionary, 3rd Ed.  (Rochester: Lawyers Co-op. Publishing Company, 1969)
  • State v. Kearns, 153 P. 3d 731 (Court of Appeals of Utah, 2006)

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