We all read the papers and watch the news and hear criminal legal terms that we do not truly understand……read this and then you will…
Acquittal: A jury verdict that a criminal defendant is not guilty, or the finding of a judge that the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction.
Admissible: A term used to describe evidence that may be considered by a jury or judge in criminal cases.
Alternate juror: A juror who hears all the evidence but does not help decide the case unless called on to replace a regular juror.
Arraignment: A proceeding in which a criminal defendant is brought into court, told of the charges in an indictment or information, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
Bail: The release of a person accused of a crime, under specified conditions designed to assure that person's appearance in court when required.
Bench trial: A non-jury trial, where the judge decides the case.
Burden of proof: The duty to prove disputed facts. In criminal cases, the government has the burden of proving the defendant's guilt.
Case law: The law as established in previous court decisions. A synonym for legal precedent. Akin to common law, which springs from tradition and judicial decisions.
Chambers: The offices of a judge and staff.
Clerk of court: The court officer who oversees administrative functions, especially managing the flow of cases through the court. The clerk's office is often called a court's central nervous system.
Concurrent sentence: Prison terms for two or more offenses to be served at the same time, rather than one after the other. Example: Two five-year sentences and one three-year sentence, if served concurrently, result in a maximum of five years behind bars.
Count: An allegation in an indictment or information, charging a defendant with a crime. An indictment or information may contain allegations that the defendant committed more than one crime. Each allegation is referred to as a count.
Discovery: Procedures used to obtain disclosure of evidence before trial.
Due process: In criminal law, the constitutional guarantee that a defendant will receive a fair and impartial trial.
Felony: A serious crime, usually punishable by at least one year in prison.
Grand jury: A body of 16-23 citizens who listen to evidence of criminal allegations, which is presented by the prosecutors, and determine whether there is probable cause to believe an individual committed an offense.
Habeas corpus: Latin, meaning "you have the body." A writ of habeas corpus generally is a judicial order forcing law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding, and to justify the prisoner's continued confinement.
Hearsay: Evidence presented by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else. With some exceptions, hearsay generally is not admissible as evidence at trial
Home arrest: A special condition the court imposes that requires an individual to remain at home except for certain approved activities such as work and medical appointments. Home arrest may include the use of electronic monitoring equipment - a transmitter attached to the wrist or the ankle - to help ensure that the person stays at home as required...ie) an ankle bracelet.
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