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Commonly Used Terms In The Criminal Defense System

  • December 4, 2013

When you are faced with a situation which requires you to navigate the realm of criminal defense, it is important to know some of the terms and nomenclature in order to prevent confusion and misunderstandings. Here are some of the most common terms and definitions that you will find:
Miranda Rights: The right to remain silent and be provided an attorney is one of the first things that most people experience in criminal defense case. This series of rights is supposed to be read at the time that an arrest is made, and many cases have been reversed because a police officer has forgotten to read them.

Defendant: The individual being tried for a crime by the judicial system. Often a singular citizen.

Plaintiff: The individual, judicial system, or party that levies a complaint against the defendant.

Bond: Money or some sort of collateral that is put up on behalf of the defendant to assure their appearance in court.

Bench Trial: A trial that is before a judge, as opposed to a jury.Plea: When the defendant either admits or denies their guilt in open court for the charge(s) against them.

No Contest Plea: When the defendant neither confirms nor denies their guilt of a crime. Plea Agreement: An agreement between the defense and prosecutor that assures a lenient sentence for the defendant in return for their cooperation. Often the defendant pleas to a lesser charge.

Search Warrant: A legal document issued by a judge in order to search a premises for evidence of a crime.

Presumption of Innocence: All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Hearsay: An out of court statement that is used to prove the legal matter at hand. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, hearsay is not allowed to be admitted into a court of law.