Pleadings (criminal):

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   Rule 12(a) within the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure states that “The pleadings in a criminal proceeding are the indictment, the information, and the pleas of not guilty, guilty, and nolo contendere.”  

pleadings – formal documents setting forth or responding to allegations, claims, denials, or defenses.

criminal complaint – a formal charge accusing a person of having commit a criminal offense. Fed. R. Crim. P. 3.

information – a formal criminal charge made by a prosecutor without a grand-jury indictment; technically, an accusation of the commission of a c.rime, otherwise known as a complaint or affidavit.

indictment – generally, the formal written accusation of a felony, made by a grand jury and presented to a court for prosecution against the accused person.

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