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A formal criminal charge against a person alleged to have committed an offense punishable by law, which is presented before a court or a magistrate having jurisdiction to inquire into the alleged crime.

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides in part that a person accused of a crime has the right "to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation." Thus in any federal criminal prosecution, the statute setting forth the crime in the accusation must define the offense in sufficiently clear terms so that an average person will be informed of the acts that come within its scope. The charge must also inform the accused in clear and unambiguous language of the offense with which he or she is being charged under the statute. An accused has the same rights when charged with violating state Criminal Law because the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the guarantees of the Sixth Amendment to the states. The paper in which the accusation is set forth—such as an indictment, information, or a complaint—is called an accusatory instrument.

Most state constitutions contain language similar to that in the Sixth Amendment. In many state rules of Criminal Procedure, the accusatory instrument serves to protect the state constitutional rights of the accused. In Louisiana, for example, the purpose of a bill of information is to inform a defendant of the nature and cause of the accusation against him or her as required by the Louisiana State Constitution (State v. Stevenson, 2003 WL 183998 [La. App. 2003]).

In order to quash a bill of information or other accusatory instrument, the accused must present direct evidence not established by the record, showing the bill was insufficient. The accused generally has the Burden of Proof to demonstrate that the accusatory instrument was insufficient. The rules of evidence in a particular jurisdiction apply to the evidentiary determination of the sufficiency of the accusatory instrument.


Criminal Law.


n. 1) in legal terms accusation means officially charging someone with a crime either by indictment by a grand jury or filing charges by a District Attorney. 2) in lay terms any claim of wrongdoing by another person.


noun accusal, accusatio, allegation, assertion, attribution, bill of indictment, charge, citation, crimen, crimination, delation, filing of charges, formal charge, imputation, imputation of blame, incrimination, inculpation, indictment, information, preferring of charges, true bill, true charge
Associated concepts: accusatory instrument, complaint, grand jury report, indictment, information, presentment, warrant
Foreign phrases: Accusare nemo se debet, nisi coram deo.No one is bound to accuse himself, except before God.
See also: arraignment, blame, charge, claim, complaint, condemnation, count, criticism, culpability, denunciation, diatribe, disparagement, impeachment, incrimination, inculpation, indictment, information, innuendo, libel, objurgation, obloquy, onus, outcry, pleading, presentment, reproach, slander, stricture


a formal charge brought against a person stating the crime that he is alleged to have committed. The term may also be used more loosely to refer to a civil complaint.

ACCUSATION, crim. law. A charge made to a competent officer against one who has committed a crime or misdemeanor, so that he may be brought to justice and punishment.
     2. A neglect to accuse may in some cases be considered a misdemeanor, or misprision. (q.v.) 1 Bro. Civ. Law, 247; 2 Id. 389; Inst. lib. 4, tit. 18.
     3. It is a rule that no man is bound to accuse himself, or to testify against himself in a criminal case. Accusare nemo se debet nisi coram Deo. Vide Evidence; Interest; Witness.

References in periodicals archive ?
Under the guise of consumer protection and full transparency, Stiger objected to the CBA's action and threatened to post all pending accusations involving CPAs in full on the DCA's own website if the CBA did not reconsider its decision.
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Actor-producer Michael Douglas has come forward to deny as-yet-unaired accusations that he performed a sex act in front of an employee of his production company more than 30 years ago.
Unfortunately, the political discourse has not reached that stage yet; and considering how it has regressed into the practice of trading accusations of the past, it is difficult to see it advancing anytime soon either.
Malacaang on Monday clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte only meant to 'destroy' the accusations hurled by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV against him and his family, and not the legislator himself.
A ce propos, Le depute Adnene Hajji (independant) a propose la creation d'une commission pour verifier le bienfonde de ces allegations et eviter de mettre tous les deputes en accusation.
It is also shameful that the main suspect in this case is evading his responsibilities before his own conscience, the law and the public opinion, by pointing fingers of accusation at others," the party said.
One of the main legal principles established by the court in this case, is the significant factor of bad faith in providing the police, or any administrative authority, with a false accusation that might lead to penalising an innocent person.
I always said that this accusation was a slander," the bishop said during a press conference June 20.