Information is essentially communicated knowledge, or in other words a form of communication. It is a formal criminal charge that initiates the criminal proceedings in courts. It is simply a formal accusation, also known as a complaint that the prosecuting attorney (or sometimes some other law officer) usually files. It explicitly states that supposed crimes and has to be given to the defendant, accused wrongdoer, upon their first court appearance. When this is filed, it is basically charging a party, usually an individual or maybe corporation with some wrongdoing or other criminal violation of law. This accusation charge is very similar to an indictment. The difference here though is that it is the public prosecutor who brings this whereas a grand jury brings an indictment. Later, some or maybe all of the charges provided in the information will move on to trial, or if they do not move to trial, they are dismissed.
If the alleged charges include a felony, then there must be a preliminary hearing shortly after the delivery of the information. This then requires the prosecution to show sufficient evidence to convince the judge that the defendant likely committed the crimes and that these crimes actually were committed in the first place.
In some types of criminal cases, information can be a substitute for a presentment or an indictment by a grand jury. Information is also used in civil cases to mandate penalties or forfeitures regarding legal violations. Various state and federal statutes and constitutions regulate the procedures regarding the use of an information.
[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]