Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Accusation


Quick Summary of Accusation

A charge of wrongdoing that is made against a person or other party. In legal terms, refers to being officially charged by a Grand Jury with a crime, or a District Attorney filing charges.

What is the dictionary definition of Accusation?

Dictionary Definition

A charge or claim that someone has done something illegal or wrong.

  • The act of accusing.
  • legal A formal charge brought against a person in a court of law.
  • An allegation.
  • accusal a formal charge of wrongdoing brought against a person; the act of imputing blame or guilt.
  • charge an assertion that someone is guilty of a fault or offence.

Full Definition of Accusation

A formal criminal charge against a person alleged to have committed an offense punishable by law, which is presented before a court or a magistrate having jurisdiction to inquire into the alleged crime.

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides in part that a person accused of a crime has the right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.” Thus in any federal criminal prosecution, the statute setting forth the crime in the accusation must define the offense in sufficiently clear terms so that an average person will be informed of the acts that come within its scope. The charge must also inform the accused in clear and unambiguous language of the offense with which he or she is being charged under the statute. An accused has the same rights when charged with violating state criminal law because the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the guarantees of the Sixth Amendment to the states. The paper in which the accusation is set forth—such as an indictment, information, or a complaint—is called an accusatory instrument.

Most state constitutions contain language similar to that in the Sixth Amendment. In many state rules of Criminal Procedure, the accusatory instrument serves to protect the state constitutional rights of the accused. In Louisiana, for example, the purpose of a bill of information is to inform a defendant of the nature and cause of the accusation against him or her as required by the Louisiana State Constitution (State v. Stevenson, 2003 WL 183998 [La. App. 2003]).

In order to quash a bill of information or other accusatory instrument, the accused must present direct evidence not established by the record, showing the bill was insufficient. The accused generally has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the accusatory instrument was insufficient. The RULES OF EVIDENCE in a particular jurisdiction apply to the evidentiary determination of the sufficiency of the accusatory instrument.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Accusation. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
October 04, 2022
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Accusation. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: October 04, 2022).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Accusation. Retrieved October 04, 2022
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Accusation are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 8th October, 2021 | 0 Views.