Simple English definitions for legal terms
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Information is a formal accusation or charge that starts criminal proceedings in court. It is a way of communicating knowledge about a supposed crime. The prosecuting attorney or law officer files the information, which states the alleged crimes and must be given to the accused person at their first court appearance.
Information can be used in place of an indictment by a grand jury in some criminal cases. It can also be used in civil cases to mandate penalties or forfeitures for legal violations.
John is accused of stealing a car. The prosecuting attorney files an information that states the charge of grand theft auto. At John's first court appearance, he is given a copy of the information. Later, there will be a trial to determine if John is guilty of the crime.
In another example, a company is accused of violating environmental regulations. The government files an information that states the charges. The company must then defend itself in court and may face penalties if found guilty.
These examples illustrate how information is a formal accusation that starts legal proceedings. It communicates knowledge about alleged crimes or legal violations and initiates the process of determining guilt or innocence.