Democratic presidential candidate former U.S. Senator John Edwards
Democratic presidential candidate former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-NC) (C) speaks to supporters at a campaign rally at Dreher High School in Columbia, South Carolina, January 9, 2008. REUTERS

A Grand Jury has indicted John Edwards on criminal charges stemming from alleged misuse of campaign funds to hide an extra-marital affair, according to a filing in federal court on Friday.

U.S. prosecutors charged in a North Carolina federal court that the former Senator from North Carolina and Democratic candidate for president for the 2008 election with one count of conspiracy and three counts of illegal campaign contributions.

He is alleged to have received more than the federal campaign contribution limits and the attempted to cover it up by having his Presidential Committee create and file false reports with the Federal Election Committee.

The purpose of the conspiracy was to conceal Edwards' extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy with his child.

Edwards knew that the public revelation would destroy his candidacy by, among other things, undermining Edwards' presentation of himself as a family man and by forcing his campaign to divert personnel and resources away from other campaign activities to respond to criticism and media scrutiny regarding the affair and pregnancy, the indictment stated.

The affair took place while his wife was dying of cancer. He has been the target of a nearly two year investigation into whether he used around $1 million in campaign funds to silence his lover and pay staffers to stay quiet.

Edwards' attorney Greg Craig is reportedly planning to meet with prosecutors in North Carolina today. What happens next is unclear -- when it first became evident that Edwards was likely to be charged Craig categorically denied any wrongdoing, writing that the government's theory is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.

Should Edwards be formally charged and accept a plea deal, he would lose his license to practice law. Before going into politics he had risen to prominence as a successful trial lawyer.