Direct Indictment Law & Legal Definition


An indictment is an official written instrument submitted by a grand jury to a court, charging a person with the commission of an offense. A direct indictment is one in which the case goes straight to trial, before an inquiry is completed, circumventing the preliminary hearing. These indictments are extraordinary, powerful, and are rarely used.

Alternatively, sealed indictments are indictments that are kept secret and not made public. In a sealed indictment, the documentation surrounding the indictment is kept under seal. Parties involved in the indictment are not permitted to discuss anything related to the sealed indictment outside of the grand jury hearings, or with anyone else once the hearings are over. When the seal is lifted, the contents of the indictment can be made public.

The following is an example of a case law explaining the term:

The term direct indictment simply means that no criminal complaint was first filed against a defendant. There is no constitutional or statutory requirement that a criminal prosecution begin by complaint. It is lawful for a prosecutor to bring a criminal charge initially by indictment. [Smith v. Eberlin-Miller, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130418 (D. Ohio 2009)].