indictable offense – a crime that can be prosecuted by indictment, usually only felonies or serious misdemeanors

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indictable offense:

1. A crime that can be prosecuted only be indictment.  *  In federal court, such an offense is one punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year or at hard labor.  Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(a). [1]

1. A crime to be prosecuted under an indictment; in some jurisdictions, any felony. In some jurisdictions, any felony and any misdemeanor of a certain class, particularly a misdemeanor of a serious nature. State v Berlin, 42 M0 572, 576.

2. At common law, treason, a capital offense, or a felony. 27 Am J1st Indict § 5. [2]

1. A crime prosecute by indictment rather than by information.  Generally, this means a felony rather than a misdemeanor. [3]

     Excerpt from Howard League for Penal Reform’s Counsel for the Defense: An Enquiry into the Question of Legal Aid for Poor Prisoners (1926):

     “[I]t is impossible to take the distinction between indictable and non-indictable offenses as corresponding with any great accuracy to our actual sense of their importance to the community.  Thus we find amongst the list of indictable offenses many that are obsolete or comparatively venial (though no doubt  blameworthy!) — such as play, corruptly taking a reward for restoring a stolen dog, destroying hop-binds, Jesuits and monks coming into the realm, killing hares and rabbits by night in a warren, or ‘depraving the Book of Common Prayer.’  On the other hand amongst non-indictable offenses are classed many acts of the utmost importance: Assaulting constables in the execution of their duty, aggravated and common assaults, brothel-keeping, and cruelty to animals. [4]

indictable nuisance:

1. A common law offense against the public peace, the public health, or the public morals.  State v Waymire, 52 Or 281, 97 P 16.

2. A public, as distinguished from, a private nuisance.  39 Am J1st Nuis § 178. [2]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Howard League for Penal Reform’s Counsel for the Defense: An Enquiry into the Question of Legal Aid for Poor Prisoners 4 (1926)


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