An accusation or complaint made in writing to a
court of competent jurisdiction, charging some person with a
specific violation of some public law. It differs in nothing from
an indictment in its form and substance, except that it is filed at
the discretion of the proper law officer of the government, ex
officio, without the intervention or approval of a grand jury. 4
Bl. Com. 308, 9.
2. In the French law, the term information is used to signify the
act or instrument which contains the depositions of witnesses
against the accused. Poth. Proc. Cr. sect. 2, art. 5 .
3. Informations have for their object either to punish a crime or
misdemeanor, and these have,.perhaps, never been resorted to in the
United States or to recover penalties or forfeitures, which are
quite common. For the form and requisites of an information for a
penalty, see 2 Chit. Pr. 155 to 171. Vide Blake s Ch. 49; 14 Vin.
Ab. 407; 3 Story, Constitution, 1780 3 Bl. Com. 261.
4. In summary proceedings before justices of the peace, the
complaint or accusation, at least when the proceedings relate to a
penalty, is called an information, and it is then taken down in
writing and sworn to. As the object is to limit the informer to a
certain charge, in order that the defendant may know what he has to
defend, and the justice may limit the evidence and his subsequent
adjudication to the allegations in the information, it follows that
the substance of the particular complaint must be stated and it
must be sufficiently formal to contain all material averments. 8 T.
R. 286; 5 Barn. & Cres. 251; 11 E. C. L. R. 217; 2 Chit. Pr. 156.
See 1 Wheat. R. 9.
Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition
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