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Glossary Of Terms Used Commonly In Criminal Cases

  • December 4, 2013

Justice systems use specific terms to represent processes,
policies and procedures unique to justice systems. Lots of people find them
confusing, especially if they’ve not been involved in the court cases before.
It is helpful for those who encounter
justice system to know what these terms used by prosecutors, judges and
defense lawyers who take part in their cases mean, for them to understand the
proceedings well as they take place.

The following glossary of commonly used terms will assist
victims better understand court procedures, what is happening in their case, plus
the way it is progressing through the courts.

Accused: A person or persons charged but not yet put on
trial for a criminal offense.

Acquittal: A legal ruling based on the verdict of either a
judge or jury that a person charged with a criminal offense isn’t guilty of the
charges for which he or she has been tried.

Admissible Evidence: Evidence that is proper and relevant
for consideration in reaching a determination in court. Pre-trial hearings are
usually held to enable the judge make this determination

Contempt of Court: Normally, this is regarded as someone
attacking the ethics of the Court of law e.g.
refusing to comply with a court order.

Defendant: Someone charged with a criminal offense, whether a
misdemeanor or felony offense.

Continuance: Postponements in court trials and hearings.

Defense Attorney: The Legal professional who represents the
accused person.

Felony: – Almost all offenses are either misdemeanor or
felonies offenses. What differentiates the two is the punishment upon

Jury Instructions: Upon
conclusion of criminal jury trials, judges inform the jurors of the laws which
are applicable to their cases.

Parole: Conditional release from detention of an offender after
serving part of a punishment in a criminal case.

Bench Trial: A trial where the judge hears the case with no
jury, and determines whether the accused person is guilty.

Sentence: A court
order that is confirmed upon conviction.