Charge Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Charge, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Charge?

1 It is an instruction given by the Judge to the members of Jury before the trial is taken over by jury. The judge explains the possible laws that apply in that particular case. 2. It also refers to the statement put down on the official complain accusing the party and staing the crime committed against which the complain is registered.

History and Meaning of Charge

The term "charge" is one of the critical legal terms used in the judicial system. It is a formal means of accusing someone of committing a criminal offense. In English law, the prosecutor's case is put forward in the form of charges. The charges outline the specific criminal action that the accused has committed, and it is based on that charge that the accused person may be tried and eventually convicted.

During the early stages of the legal system, communities relied on oral tradition to prosecute cases. This process was often haphazard and resulted in many people being accused of crimes erroneously. With the establishment of written laws and procedures, charges became standardized and were used as a means of ensuring that the accused received a fair trial.

Today, charges must be both specific and detailed to stand up in a court of law. Charges must outline the alleged offense, the date and place of the offense, witnesses to the offense, and any other relevant information that supports the prosecution's case.

Examples of Charge

  1. John Smith was charged with burglary and theft after breaking into a jewelry store on 5th Avenue and stealing a diamond necklace.
  2. The prosecutor presented four charges of embezzlement against the CEO of a major corporation.
  3. The defendant was charged with assaulting a police officer after punching the officer during an arrest.
  4. A man was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after being pulled over for erratic driving.
  5. The charges against the defendant were dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

Legal Terms Similar to Charge

  1. Indictment: An indictment is a formal document that lays out the charges against a defendant. Typically, an indictment is used in more serious crimes like murder or rape.
  2. Accusation: An accusation is a formal charge that a person has committed a criminal offense, similar to a charge.
  3. Complaint: A complaint is a formal allegation that a person has caused harm or violated a legal right. Complaints are typically used in cases that do not involve criminal offenses, such as civil lawsuits.