An indictment refers to the formal process of accusing an individual of committing a crime. An indictment is typically heard by a grand jury. During the indictment process, the grand jury is concerned solely with whether or not there is enough evidence to bring charges against the defendant. Therefore, it is not the job of the jury (during an indictment) to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant.
The indictment process was, at one time, popularly used in many different countries; however, it is now used most commonly in the United States. Typically, indictments only occur as the result of a person being charged with a serious crime, usually a felony of some sort. Furthermore, the United States Constitution, under the Fifth Amendment, states that “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…”