I was wondering if someone could help me with the diference between an indictment and an accusation in Spanish. My understanding is that in English, an indictment is issued by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence to proceed to trial, while an accusation has not been acted on by a grand jury and sometimes defendants will plea without having been indicted during plea bargaining for other cases. Is there any way to make a distinction between the two in Spanish? Thank you for any help.
  • David

    Accusation in English is a very general term. Mary accused Betty of being a pain in the neck. It can be used to mean "formally charged": "You are accused of spitting on the sidewalk in front of a hospital, a Class A misdemeanor," but generally speaking it would usually be "You are charged with spitting on the sidewalk..."

    An indictment is only one thing: a bill (auto) returned by a grand jury. You can´t be indicted by a victim or a police officer.

    For a formal "accusation" you could use "denuncia," what the victim would sign when going to the prosecutor´s office; it is like swearing out a complaint in the DA´s office or the police department. Denuncia is used both formally and informally, just like "accusation" in English, but it tends in informal use to mean making a complaint to the cops, a complaint in the sense of a general allegation made to a public official (He filed a complaint with the zoning board about the height of his neighbor's amaranthus bushes on the curb line). A formal "complaint" initiating a prosecution, in lieu of an indictment in a criminal matter, could be an acusación or a providencia or even a demanda in a civil case.

    For indictment, I tend to use "llamar a juicio," that is, to formally charge an individual, call upon him (usually him) to answer a charges in court, to present a defense in a criminal trial. You could use "auto acusatorio" when referring to the bill of indictment, a document, as opposed to the substance of the "charge" contained in the document handed up by the grand jury. (Grand juries hand things up to the judge, who hands down his rulings.)

    As for the terms "providence" for providencia, "testimony" for indagatoria,, "figure" for figura, "inquiring" for "inquiry", "conduct" for conducta, I would definitely suggest other translations, but they would be the subject of other threads.
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