A criminal charge is a formal accusation made by a governmental authority asserting that somebody has committed a crime.
In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority.
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A charging document, which contains one or more criminal charges or counts, can take several forms, including:
The charging document is what generally starts a criminal case in court.
A court is a tribunal, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law.
But the procedure by which somebody is charged with a crime and what happens when somebody has been charged varies from country to country and even, within a country, from state to state.