The criminal justice process can be arcane, but one term is recognizable to the public. An indictment is a formal accusation by a grand jury that an indicted individual has committed a crime. While damning, the indicted defendant nonetheless has the constitutional right to say to the government, “Prove it,” and, if the government fails, to be cleared of all criminal wrongdoing.
In contrast, an individual designated in an indictment as an “unindicted co-conspirator” has not been charged by a grand jury with a crime. Rather, the label reflects only the view that the individual is complicit in the defendant’s wrongdoing. Unlike the defendant who has a right to defend himself, the unindicted co-conspirator is not on trial but confined to a limbo in which vindication is never possible.
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