Following is a short answer glossary of criminal defense legal terms that will help you develop questions to ask your criminal defense attorney, better understand the criminal defense legal process, and make better use of this site and other reference materials. It is not intended to be a detailed, complete glossary and does not constitute legal advice.
Abuse Excuse: A
self-defense claim where defendants seek to justify their actions by
proving they were subjected to years of prolonged child and/or spousal
Accessory After the Fact: A person who
takes an active role in concealing criminal conduct that has already
Accessory Before the Fact: A
person who aids criminal activity but is not present when it is
Accomplices: Partners in criminal
Acquit: A judge or jury "acquits" a
defendant by finding the defendant not guilty of the charges.
Acquittal: A finding by a judge or jury that the
defendant is not guilty.
Action: Another word
for a lawsuit.
Administrative Agency: A
government department charged with enforcing laws and developing
Administrative Law Judge: A
judicial officer who presides over cases brought by an administrative
Admissible Evidence: Evidence that a
trial judge can consider or can allow a jury to consider when reaching
Admission: A defendant's
out-of-court statement offered into evidence against a defendant by
the prosecution. It is an exception to the hearsay rule.
Adversary: The party on the opposite side of a legal
Affidavit: A written statement of facts
and assertions made under oath.
A crime that is made more serious because of the way in which it was
Alibi: A defense that asserts that
the defendant could not have committed the crime because he or she was
somewhere else at the time the crime was committed.
Allegation: In a formal written criminal complaint, a
prosecutor's claim that a defendant violated the law.
Anticipatory Search Warrants: Search warrants that police
obtain before contraband arrives at the location to be searched.
Appeal: A request submitted to a higher court to
review the rulings or decision of a trial court judge. Decisions by
courts of appeal often are made by three judges. Appeals in criminal
cases rarely revisit the facts of the case, but are concerned with
errors of law or procedure.
party who brings an appeal to an appellate court.
Appellate Court: A higher court that reviews the decisions of
Appellee: The party who responds
to an appeal brought by an appellant.
A persuasive presentation by the prosecution or defense to the jury
that supports the prosecutor's or defendant's case.
Arraignment: Usually the defendant's first court appearance,
in which he or she is formally charged with a crime and asked to
respond by pleading guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Other matters
often handled at the arraignment are arranging for the appointment of
defense counsel and the setting of bail or other conditions of release
pending final disposition of the case.
An arrest occurs when a police officer (or a citizen making a
citizen's arrest) detains a person in a manner that makes it clear he
or she is not free to leave, and continues to hold the person for the
purpose of bringing criminal charges against him or her.
Arrest Report: A report prepared by the arresting
officer summarizing the circumstances leading to the arrest.
Arson: The unlawful burning of a building.
Assault: A crime defined as either an attempt to
batter (unlawfully touching) someone, or intentionally placing a
person in fear of an immediate battery.
Starting but not completing an intended criminal act. Attempts are
crimes, usually punished less severely than completed crimes.
Attorney Work Product: Legal work, including the
attorney's research and development of theories and strategies, that
is considered to be privileged or confidential and therefore not
available for review or inspection by the opposing side.
Authenticate: To identify an object for a trial.
Bail: Money paid to the court to ensure that an arrested person
makes all required court appearances. If the defendant fails to
appear, the bail is forfeited.
Bail Bond: A guarantee given to the court by
a bail bond seller to pay a defendant's bail should the defendant fail
to appear in court. The bail bond seller charges the defendant, or
other person who obtains the bond, a nonrefundable premium of
approximately 10% of the amount of bail as a condition for providing
Bailiff: A uniformed peace officer who maintains
order in the courtroom and performs other courtroom duties, such as
escorting defendants in custody to and from a courtroom, attending to
the needs of a jury, and handing exhibits to witnesses.
Battery: The wrongful touching of another person. Battery is usually a
misdemeanor, although it becomes a felony if the touching results in
(or is intended to cause) serious injury.
Bench: A judge's
courtroom chair and desk. "Bench" is also a substitute term for
"judge." For example, a defendant might ask for a "bench trial,"
meaning a trial by a judge without a jury.
Best Evidence Rule:
An evidence rule that restricts a witness from verbally testifying to
the contents of a document unless the document is produced in court.
This rule is also frequently used to require production of the
original document rather than a copy.
Beyond a Reasonable
Doubt: The burden of proof that the prosecution must carry in a
criminal trial to obtain a guilty verdict.
Bill of Rights: The
first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
procedure in which a jail records pertinent information, often
including a photograph and fingerprints, about a person who has been
arrested and placed in custody.
Bounty Hunter: Person who
chases down defendants who have skipped bail, and turns them in.
Bribery: The corrupt payment, receipt, or solicitation of a
private favor for official action.
Brief: A legal document,
written to the judge by the prosecution or defense, consisting of a
persuasive statement of fact and law that supports that side's
position on one or more issues in the case.
Burden of Proof:
The requirement that the prosecution convince the jury that the
defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of each and every
element of the crime charged. In a criminal case the burden of proof
always rests with the prosecution, except that, in federal courts, the
defendant has the burden to prove an insanity or alibi defense.
Burglary: The crime of breaking into and entering a building with
the intention to commit a felony. The breaking and entering need not
be by force, and the felony need not be theft.
Capital Crime or
Offense: A crime that can be punished by death or life in prison.
Caption: A heading on all pleadings submitted to the court that
indicates basic information such as the defendant's name, the court,
and the case number.
Challenge: A prosecution or defense
request for the judge to excuse either a potential juror or to remove
him or herself as judge (called a recusal) because of a conflict of
Challenge for Cause: A claim made by one of the
attorneys during jury voir dire that a potential juror is legally
disqualified from jury service because of factors that would prevent
the juror from being fair to his or her client.
judge's private business office, often located adjacent to the
Charge: Formal allegation or accusation of criminal
Child Pornography: Any visual depiction of actual or
simulated sexual conduct by an individual under the age of 18 or
lascivious exhibition of the pubic area of such an individual.
Child Procurement: The act of arranging or instigating a meeting with
a child for the purpose of having sexual relations.
Circumstantial Evidence: Evidence that proves a fact by means of an
Citizen's Arrest: An arrest made by a private
citizen. Citizen's arrests are lawful in certain limited situations,
such as when a private citizen personally witnesses a violent crime
and then detains the perpetrator.
City Attorney: An attorney
who works for and represents a city, and who in certain circumstances
has the authority to bring criminal prosecutions.
lawsuits are generally between two private parties, whereas criminal
actions involve government enforcement of the criminal laws.
Clear and Convincing Evidence: The burden of proof placed on a party
in certain types of civil cases, such as cases involving fraud. Clear
and convincing is a higher standard than preponderance of the
evidence, the standard typical in most civil cases, but not as high as
beyond a reasonable doubt, the burden placed on the prosecution in
Clerk's Office: The administrative office in a
courthouse where legal documents are filed, stored, and made available
to the public.
Closing Argument or Final Argument: A persuasive
presentation made by the prosecution and the defense to the jury at
the conclusion of a trial, arguing how, given the law and the evidence
presented, that particular side should prevail.
Service: Unpaid work that benefits the community and that may be
required of a convicted defendant as an alternative to a jail
Complaint: A pleading or legal document prepared by
the prosecutor's office that formally charges the defendant with a
crime or crimes. This initial charging document is also sometimes
called an information.
Concurrent Sentences: Sentences for more
than one crime that defendants serve at the same time.
Confession: A voluntary statement by an accused, orally or in writing,
in which the accused admits guilt of a particular crime or crimes.
Consecutive Sentences: Sentences for more than one crime that
defendants serve in sequence or one after the other.
Conspirators: Two or more people who join together to commit a crime.
Contempt of Court: Behavior, punishable by fine or imprisonment,
in court or outside of court, that obstructs court administration,
violates or resists a court order, or otherwise disrupts or shows
disregard for the administration of justice.
delay in a scheduled court proceeding. The prosecution or defense can
request a continuance when they want the court to postpone a deadline.
Contraband: Property that is illegal to possess or transport.
Conviction: A finding of guilty following a trial or plea bargain.
Costs or Court Costs: Expenses of trial other than attorney's
fees, such as fees and costs for filing legal documents, court
reporters, and expert witnesses fees.
Court: A government
building where cases are heard. It can also mean the judge.
Court Clerk: A court employee who assists a judge with the
administrative tasks of moving cases through the court system.
Court Reporter: The person who records every word that is said during
official court proceedings and depositions, and who prepares a written
transcript of those proceedings upon the request of the judge or a
Crime: A type of behavior that has been defined as
warranting punishment by the state. Crimes and the punishments for
committing crimes, are defined by Congress and state legislatures.
Cross-examination: The prosecution's or defense's opportunity to
ask questions of the other side's witnesses.
Culpable: Guilty or blameworthy.
Interrogations: Police questioning of a person under arrest.
Damages: Money that civil courts award to compensate those who have
been injured or who have lost property through another's wrongdoing.
Defendant: A person who has been formally charged by the
prosecutor or grand jury with committing a crime. In civil cases, the
defendant is the party who has been sued by the person initiating the
Defense Attorney: The attorney who speaks and acts on
behalf of the defendant.
Determinate Sentences: Sentences for
fixed terms. Prisoners may be released on parole before they have
finished serving their sentences.
Direct Examination: The
initial questioning of a witness by the party who has called that
Discovery in Criminal Cases: The procedures used by
the defense and prosecution to find out before trial what information
the other side has and intends to use if the trial takes place. As a
general rule, the defense is entitled to discover more information
than is the prosecution because of the Fifth Amendment rule against
Disorderly Conduct: A criminal
charge made when a person is disturbing the peace, drunk in public, or
District Attorney or D.A. or Prosecutor: The
prosecuting attorney who works for and represents the local county
government in criminal cases.
Diversion: An alternative
procedure in which the case is handled outside of the court.
Generally, a person who agrees to be diverted will escape criminal
charges if he or she stays out of trouble for a specific period of
time and cooperates in the rehabilitation services made available.
Diversion is usually only available for minor crimes and drug offenses
when rehabilitation appears to be possible.
record of all the legal documents that have been filed, court
proceedings, and orders that have taken place in a particular case.
Domestic Violence: Violence between members of a household,
usually spouses; an assault or other violent act committed by one
member of a household against another.
Double Jeopardy: A rule
from the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits a
defendant from being made to stand trial twice for the same offense.
There are some exceptions to this rule.
DUI: Driving under the
influence of alcohol or other drugs is a crime. A conviction can
result in jail time.
DWI: Driving while intoxicated from
alcohol or other drugs is a crime. A conviction can result in jail
Elements of a Crime: Component parts of crimes. Each
element must be proven by the prosecution to satisfy its burden of
Entrapment: The act by police or their agents to induce
a person to commit a crime for the purposes of prosecuting that person
for that induced crime.
Evidence: Information presented to a
judge or jury, including the testimony of witnesses and documents that
tend to prove or disprove guilt or innocence.
Ex Parte: A
contact with the judge by one party outside the presence of the other
party is considered an "ex parte contact" and is generally forbidden
unless it concerns a routine scheduling matter that doesn't relate to
the substance of the case.
Ex Post Facto Law: A law that
attempts to punish an act that was not illegal when the act took
place. Such laws are unconstitutional.
Excited Utterance: An
exception to the hearsay rule that finds an out-of-court statement to
be reliable if it is made about a startling event while the person
making the statement is experiencing that event.
Rule: A judge-created rule that evidence that police seize illegally
is generally inadmissible at trial.
Evidence that points toward a defendant's innocence. Prosecutors are
required to hand over such evidence to the defense, even if the
defense doesn't' request it, and a showing that this rule was violated
can sometimes result in a conviction being reversed.
tangible object presented to the judge or jury during trial to help
the prosecution or defense present its case.
Expert Witness: A
person who, because of his or her special knowledge or training, is
permitted to offer an opinion about a set of facts when testifying
before a jury. Nonexpert witnesses, by contrast, usually may only
testify as to their firsthand observations, but not their opinions.
Expunge: Destroy, erase, or blot out.
Failure to Register:
Failure to register as a sex offender.
False Arrest: A civil
tort that alleges a person was unlawfully detained.
Serious crime usually punishable by a prison term of more than one
year or in some cases by death.
Fifth Amendment Right Against
Self-incrimination: The constitutional right of every person to remain
silent when being questioned by the police and to not take the witness
stand at trial or other court proceedings.
Forfeiture laws authorize the government to seize property that was
used in connection with certain types of criminal activity.
Forgery: The act of altering or falsifying a document with the intent
to defraud someone.
Foundation: A set of facts explaining the
origin of evidence such as documents and photographs, thereby
establishing their authenticity. Before admitting these and other
items into evidence, the judge will require that the party trying to
admit them establish an adequate foundation.
A motion that is made without legally valid grounds, such as a motion
that is designed solely to delay the legal proceedings.
Jury: A group of 15-23 citizens selected for court service to decide,
based on the prosecutor's evidence, whether or not there is probable
cause to charge a defendant with a crime.
Guilty: One of the
pleas a defendant may enter in response to being charged with a crime.
A guilty plea admits the charges and subjects the defendant to
punishment for them. The state of being found guilty or culpable by a
jury is the opposite of innocent.
Harmless Error: A trial
judge's mistake that an appellate court decides did not have an impact
on the case's outcome.
Hate Crimes: A hate crime refers to a
crime committed not out of animosity toward a victim as an individual,
but out of hostility toward the group to which the victim belongs.
Hearing: A court proceeding before a judge, much shorter than a
Hearsay: An out-of-court statement offered in court to
prove the truth of what that statement asserts. As a general rule,
hearsay cannot be used as evidence because it is not reliable and
cannot be cross examined.
Holding: The rule for which an
appellate court opinion stands.
Holding Cells: Courthouse jail
cells, lockups, or bullpens where defendants who are in custody and
who are appearing in court are required to wait. After their court
appearance, the defendant is taken back to the regular jail where he
is being held.
Hostile Witness or Adverse Witness: A
witness so hostile to the party who called him or her that
cross-examination is permitted.
Immunity: Freedom from
prosecution. Prosecutors often grant one defendant immunity as an
incentive to testify against another defendant. Prosecutors can also
force immunized defendants to testify because if they refuse they can
be held in contempt of court.
Impanel: Assembling a panel
(group) of prospective jurors for jury selection.
discredit a person's believability.
In Camera: Court session
that is closed to the public, often conducted in the judge's chambers.
Inadmissible: When evidence offered by a party is ruled
inadmissible by the judge, it means that it is not allowed to become a
part of the court record and may therefore not be considered as
Incompetence to Stand Trial: Lacking the mental
ability to understand or participate in legal proceedings. A defendant
may be sane at the time a crime was committed yet be incompetent to
Indeterminate Sentences: Sentences for an unfixed
period of time, such as "ten years to life." A parole board often
decides how long an offender given an indeterminate sentence actually
serves in prison.
Information: The term commonly used for the
initial document filed in court by the prosecutor that charges a
defendant with one or more crimes.
Insanity: A mental disease
or defect that sufficiently interferes with a defendant's ability to
control his actions or appreciate the nature of his act that the
defendant is not considered to be legally responsible for his criminal
Jurisdiction: A court's geographic power and legal
authority to hear a particular type of case.
Juror: A person
selected to serve on a jury.
Jury: A group of people who decide
the facts of a case and render a verdict of guilty or not guilty, on
specific criminal charges defined by the judge in jury instructions.
Jury Instructions: Legal rules given by the judge to the jury. The
judge typically gets some of these rules from jury instruction books
which contain the standard rules given by other criminal courts in
that state and rules that are custom drafted by the prosecution and
defense for the particular facts of the case.
minor. Juveniles are entitled to special treatment under the law.
Larceny: Another word for theft. The taking of property belonging
to another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the
property of its possession.
Law Clerk: An assistant to a judge
or attorney, usually a recent law school graduate.
Question: A question that suggests the answer, often a statement asked
as a question.
Lesser Included Offense: A crime that is made up
of some but not all of the elements of a more serious crime.
Liable: A legal conclusion that an offender is civilly responsible for
a victim's losses.
Lineup: A procedure in which the police
place a suspect in a line with a group of other persons and ask an
eyewitness to the crime to pick the person he or she saw at the crime
scene out of the group. If the suspect is selected and later charged
with the crime, the fact of the lineup identification may be
introduced as evidence.
Magistrate: A court official who acts
as a judge in certain court proceedings.
Malice: Typically, a
willful or intentional state of mind to bring about some injury or
wrongdoing. Malice can sometimes be found in other ways, such as where
someone's actions show recklessness.
Manslaughter: The crime of
killing a person but without the malice (evil intent) required to
classify the killing as murder.
Mayhem: Dismemberment or
Memorandum of Points and Authorities:
A document that cites legal authorities such as statutes and court
cases, and explains how those authorities support the position
advocated by the party who wrote the memorandum. Usually written to
support a motion.
Miranda Warning: A warning that the police
must give to a suspect in custody before interrogating the suspect if
the police want to use the suspect's answers as evidence in a trial.
The Miranda warning requires that the suspect be told that he or she
has the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present
when being questioned, the right to a court-appointed attorney if a
private attorney is unaffordable, and the fact that any statements
made by the suspect can be used against him or her in court.
Misdemeanors: Crimes, less serious than felonies, punishable by no
more than one year in jail.
Mistrial: A trial that ends before
the full proceeding has been completed because of some prejudicial
error or wrong that has occurred.
crime of transferring illegally obtained money through legitimate
persons or accounts so that its original source cannot be traced.
Motion: A request to the court for an order or ruling. Some
motions are made orally, others in writing. Depending on the ruling
sought, a motion can be made before, during, or after trial.
Motion in Limine: A request for a court order excluding irrelevant or
prejudicial evidence in advance of it being offered in open court,
usually made in jury trials.
Movant: Party making or bringing a
Moving Party: See movant.
Mug Shot: Photo taken
of the defendant, by police, during the booking process after arrest.
Murder: The unlawful killing of another person when the killing
was deliberate and lacked legal justification, or the result of
willful behavior that disregarded the inherent risk to human life, or
occurred while the defendant was committing an inherently dangerous
No Contest: A plea entered by the defendant in response
to being charged with a crime, whereby the defendant neither admits
nor denies guilt of the crime, but agrees to submit to punishment as
if guilty. The reason why this sort of plea is typically entered is
that it often can't later be used as an admission of guilt if a civil
trial is held after the criminal trial.
Nolo Contendre: See no
Not Guilty: A verdict that the defendant has not been
proven guilty of the offense charged. Although a not guilty verdict is
often taken to mean that the jury finds the person innocent, it
actually only means that the jury were unable to find the defendant
Notice of Motion: A document that notifies an adversary
about when and where a motion will be made, what the reason for the
motion is, and what supporting documentation will be relied on in
making the motion.
Objection: Taking exception to or not
agreeing with some statement made by or document filed by an
adversary. Usually refers to the response the prosecution or defense
makes in court when they don't want some testimony or document
admitted into evidence during the trial.
Opening Statement: A
statement made by an attorney before the evidence is actually
introduced to preview the evidence and set the stage for the trial.
Opinions: Appellate court judges' written explanations for and
justifications of their decisions.
Own Recognizance: A way the
defendant can get out of jail, without paying bail money, on the
defendant's promise to appear in court when required to be there.
Order: A ruling or decision by a court. A court order can be made
orally or in writing.
Overrule: Deny. When the judge overrules
an objection, the judge denies the objection and the evidence objected
to is allowed in.
Party or Parties: The prosecution and the
defendant are the parties to a criminal case.
Witness: A witness who perceived the facts he or she testifies about.
Peremptory Challenge: An opportunity to challenge (dismiss or
excuse) a potential juror during jury selection without having to give
Perjury: A crime committed by lying while under oath.
Petty Theft: Taking property valued less than $400. Where the
property is worth $400 or more, the crime is grand theft.
The defendant's formal answer to criminal charges. Defendants enter
one of the following pleas: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Although this plea may be entered at any time during the case, or not
at all, it usually comes shortly before the case is scheduled to come
Plea Bargaining: The negotiation between the defense
and prosecution of the settlement of a criminal case.
Written document setting out the criminal charges.
Bias or discrimination.
Prejudicial Error: A wrong decision by
the judge that in retrospect deprived a convicted defendant of a fair
trial and therefore justifies a reversal of the case by an appellate
Preliminary Hearing: A court proceeding in which the
prosecution must present enough evidence for the judge to justify
holding the defendant to answer for the crime, or the case is
dismissed. If the case is dismissed, charges may be refiled.
Preponderance of the Evidence: The burden of proof in most civil
actions. Contrasted with the much higher prosecution burden in
criminal cases of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Fraud: The act of obtaining prescription (legal) drugs through forged
or stolen prescriptions.
Presentence Report: A written report
of an investigation conducted by a probation officer, social worker,
or psychologist working to assist the judge determine a defendant's
Presumption of Innocence: One of the most sacred
principles in American criminal justice, which holds that a defendant
is innocent until the prosecution proves each element of the crime
charged beyond a reasonable doubt.
Pretrial Conference: A
meeting between the prosecutor, the defense, and the judge before
trial to identify undisputed facts, share witness lists or any other
required discovery, and sometimes attempt to settle the case.
Pretrial Motion: A request to the court made before trial or an order
or ruling. Typical pretrial motions include a motion for continuance,
motion to exclude evidence that was illegally seized, or evidence of
lineup that was unfairly conducted.
Statement: A procedural rule that allows certain out-of-court
statements to be admitted into evidence for the purpose of
discrediting a witness by showing that the witness gave a
contradictory account of something on a prior occasion.
Legal principles that keep certain communications confidential and
thus out-of-court or discovery proceedings. Some common privileges
include confidential communications made to a spouse, doctor,
attorney, psychotherapist, or clergy.
Pro Bono: Legal services
performed pro bono or on a pro bono basis are done for free or a
Probable Cause: Reasonable basis for certain
actions by the police. Probable cause is more than a mere hunch but
not so much as to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.
Probative Evidence: Evidence that tends to prove or disprove some
Procedural Law: Laws or rules that govern the
method of how a criminal case is administered and tried in court.
Procedural rules are contrasted with rules of "substantive law" that
define the rights and duties of parties, and the elements of
Prosecution: To prosecute or the prosecution
of a case, means to bring a criminal case against a defendant. The
prosecution can also refer to the government's team.
Prosecutors: Attorneys who work for the government to litigate
Prostitution: The crime of engaging in sexual
intercourse or other sexual activity for hire.
Rap Sheet: A
defendant's arrest and conviction record as maintained by one or more
criminal justice agencies.
Rape: Unlawful sexual activity with
a person without consent and usually by force or threat of injury.
Reasonable Doubt: Continuing doubt following serious consideration
of a matter. Reasonable doubt is the same as not being convinced of a
defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Evidence offered to contradict evidence presented by the adversary.
Record: The official written transcript of court proceedings in a
case. When something goes on the record, it appears in the official
Recross-examination: Additional cross-examination
of witnesses called by an adversary on redirect examination.
Redact: To delete or cover up part of a document because it refers to
Redirect Examination: Additional direct
examination questions of a witness by the party who called that
witness just after that witness has been cross-examined by the
Regulations: Rules made by administrative agencies.
Relevancy: A connection to the issues in the case. Relevant
evidence is evidence that helps to prove or disprove some fact in
connection with the case.
Respondent: The name for the
defendant in cases where the plaintiff is called a "petitioner."
Response or Responsive Pleading: A legal document in which a party
responds to an adversary's pleading, motion, or brief.
Sanctions or To Sanction: Fines imposed by the court on one or both of
the parties for improper conduct during the case.
conceal from the public records.
Self-defense: The use of
reasonable force against an aggressor by one who reasonably believes
it necessary in order to avoid imminent bodily harm. Self-defense is a
justification for conduct that would otherwise be a crime.
Sentencing Guidelines: Laws that either suggest or dictate the
sentence a judge is required to give for specific crimes.
Stalking: The act of threatening, harassing, or annoying someone,
especially with the intent of placing the recipient in fear that an
illegal act or an injury will be inflicted on the recipient or a
member of the recipient's family or household.
Limitations: The legal time limit in which criminal charges can be
filed against a defendant for a particular crime. Some crimes, such as
murder, do not have a statute of limitations, and the statute of
limitations for criminal acts against children are much longer than
for crimes against adults.
Stipulation: An agreement between
Stop and Frisk: A police officer's brief and limited
pat down of a person's outer clothing. It is less invasive than a
Strike: To delete testimony from the
official court record.
Subpoena: A court order compelling a
person to appear in court.
Subpoena Duces Tecum:
A court order
compelling a person to appear in court and bring along with them
certain objects or documents.
Substantive Law: Rules defining
crimes and rights and duties of parties as opposed to procedural laws.
Suspended Sentence: A sentence that the judge hands down but does
not require the defendant to serve right away or at all if certain
conditions, such as successfully completing probation, are satisfied.
Sustain: Uphold. When a judge sustains an objection, it is upheld
and the evidence objected to is not allowed into evidence.
Evasion: The willful attempt to defeat or circumvent the tax law in
order to illegally reduce one's tax liability.
Tax Fraud: The
crime of intentionally filing a false tax return or making other false
statements under penalties of perjury to taxing authorities.
Testimony: Evidence given under oath, in a court or in a deposition.
Time Served: The time a defendant spends in jail awaiting
resolution of his or her case. If convicted, the time served may be
credited toward the sentence.
Tort: A civil wrong other than a
breach of contract. Some actions, such as assault and battery, can be
both crimes and torts.
Transcript: A written record of a court
proceeding or deposition.
Trial: A judicial examination and
determination of issues between parties before a court.
Attorneys: Prosecutors for the federal government.
overturn a lower court's decision.
person who drives a vehicle and unintentionally but unlawfully kills
another human being.
Verdict: The jury's final decision in a
criminal case: guilty or not guilty.
The process of
questioning and selecting a jury. The judge, the prosecution, and the
defense all question potential jurors for the purpose of deciding
whether the jurors are acceptable.
Waive: Give up.
Time: Give up one's rights to have a criminal case prosecuted
according to speedy trial rules.
Warrant: Order from a judge or
magistrate authorizing the police to arrest a person or to search a
particular location for evidence (search warrant).
Crime: A crime that usually involves money or property obtained
through deception, including fraud, forgery, embezzlement,
counterfeiting, and computer tampering.
Witness: A person who
testifies in court.
Wobbler: A crime that can be charged as
either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Writ: A written court order
to perform a specified act or giving authority to have it done. Often
a writ is directed to a sheriff who takes the appropriate action. An
example would be a Writ of Attachment.