Glossary

Accessory: a person who knowingly and intentionally contributes to or aids in the commission of a crime

 

Accessory After the Fact: An accessory who was not at the scene of the crime but knows that a crime has been committed and who helps the offender try to escape arrest or punshiment

 

Acquittal:  criminal defendant being found "not guilty" of the crime

 

Adjournment: postponing or rescheduling a case or court session until another date or time

 

Affidavit: written statement of fact that is verified by oath or affirmation before a notary officer having authority to adminster oaths

 

Answer: a party's written resposne to a legal pleading, such as a motion or brief

 

Bail: Bond money paid to a court by or on behalf of a criminal defendant as security that, when released from jail, the defendant will appear at future hearings. If another person posts the bail money, then that third party vouches that the defendant will appear at future court dates. Bail can be forfeited if the defendant fails to appear or violates release conditions.

 

Bench Trial: A trial held before a judge and without a jury.

 

Bench Warrant: a Court order commanding the defendant's arrest and appearance in Court after previously failing to appear for a hearing

 

Brief: written arguments submitted by the lawyers for each side in a case explaining and/or supporting their respective positions

 

Capital offense: crime punishable by death

 

Charge to the Jury:  A judge’s instructions to a jury. The instructions contain information on the laws relating to the case, definitions of legal terms and explanations of procedures relevant to the jury’s duties.

 

Controlled Dangerous Substance: any substance whose possession and use have been regulated by the legislature

 

Chambers: judge's office

 

Conviction: judge or jury's decision that the accused person is guilty of the crime

 

Defendant: a person who has been formally charged with committing a crime

 

Defense Attorney: an attorney who represents the defendant in a lawsuit or criminal case

 

Deliberations: discussions held by the jury, after all evidence has been presented, to decide outsome of a case

 

Direct Examination: questioning of a witness by the party who first called the witness to the stand

 

Docket Number: number assigned by the court's clerk to identify each case

 

Evidence: information prsented in testimony, documents, physical objects used to prove or disprove facts relevant to a case

 

Expungement: process where a conviction may be set aside

 

Felony: crime carrying more that one year possible incarceration

 

Grand Jury: group of citizens convened in a criminal case to consider the prosecutor's evidence and determine whether probable cause exists to prosecute a suspect

 

Hung Jury: a criminal jury that cannot reach a unanimous verdict

 

Incriminate: to charge with or show evidence or proof of involvement in a crime

 

Indictment: a formal written statement from a grand jury charging a person with a crime

 

Juror: a member of a jury

 

Leading Question: a question that instructs a witness hwo to answer, or suggests which answer is desired

 

Misdemeanor: crime carrying maximum jail time of one year or less

 

Mistrial: an erroneous or invalid trial; a trial declared by a judge to be defective

 

Plaintiff: a person who files a lawsuit;opposite of defendant

 

Prosecute: to bring legal action against someone for punishment of a crime or violation of the law, by the District Attorney's Office

 

Prosecuting Attorney: an attorney from the District Attorney's Office who conducts proceedings on behalf of the state

 

Testimony: evidence presented orally and under oath by witnesses during trial or other proceedings

 

Transcript: official record of the testimony taken in a trial or hearing

 

Vacate: to set aside

 

Verdict: decision of a jury or a judge on the issues submitted to the Court for determination

 

Victim: person or entity who suffers direct or threatened physical, financial. or emtional harm as a result of the commission of a crime

 

Voir Dire: process of jury selection, generally involving the judge and attorneys asking potentional jurors about their experiences and beliefs.  The purpose is to determine if the juror is appropriate for sitting on the case at hand, particularly their willingess to decide case only on the evidence presented in Court.  This French term means "to speak the truth"

 

Waiver: intentionally giving up a right

 

Warrant: Court order authorizing an arrest or search