Accused: A person or entity accused of committing a crime.

Acquitted: The term used when the proof at trial fails to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Affidavit: A sworn written statement made under oath before an authorized magistrate or officer.

Appeal: The process by which a defendant requests that his or her conviction is reviewed by a higher court.

Arraignment: The court appearance at which the defendant is brought before a Judge to be informed of the charges and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Subsequent court dates are set at the arraignment.

Arrest: The process of taking a person accused of a crime into custody by a law enforcement officer.

Bond/Bail: The amount of money that a Judge determines is sufficient to release an accused and assure his/her attendance at later hearings. The accused must post the bail or a bond, and is liable for losing the total amount if he or she fails to appear for court.

Defendant: A person charged with committing a crime.

Defense Attorney: An attorney employed by the defendant or the Public Defender's Office whose job is to represent the defendant's interest in criminal proceedings.

Discovery: The process by which the prosecutor and defense attorney exchange certain information prior to trial.

Disposition: The final result of a criminal case. This may be by a finding of guilt or non-guilt, or dismissal, or a plea of guilty.

Felony: A criminal charge which is punishable by imprisonment of more than one year in the State Department of Corrections.

Felony Hearing: A court hearing in which the prosecution must establish reasonable cause to believe the defendant committed a felony.

Grand Jury: A group of citizens, no less than 16 and no more than 23 in number, that hears evidence presented by the prosecutor and, if it determines probable cause exists to believe the accused committed an offense, charges the accused by indictment.

Guilty: Plea that a defendant enters in court admitting that he or she committed the crime; a verdict returned by a jury or Judge finding that the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime(s).

Indictment: A written accusation against one or more persons of a crime or crimes.

Investigation: The process of collecting evidence by law enforcement officers or the prosecutor to determine if a crime has been committed.

Judge: The individual who presides over court proceedings.

Jury: The group of citizens sworn to hear testimony and evidence at a trial and decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty of committing the crime(s).

Misdemeanor: A criminal charge that is punishable by a fine or incarceration for a maximum of one year.

Mistrial: When a trial ends without a verdict because a rule of criminal procedure has been violated or if the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision.

Motions: Written or oral requests by the prosecutor or defense attorney for the Judge to take specific actions.

Not Guilty Plea: A statement that a defendant enters at arraignment denying committing the crime(s).

Plea Agreement (plea bargain): An agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to avoid a trial.

Personal Recognizance: A Judge may allow a person accused of a crime to be released from custody without posting bond, believing that the defendant will return for future court dates.

Probable Cause: The amount of proof needed to determine that a crime occurred and the defendant committed the crime in order to proceed with prosecution in felony offenses.

Restitution: The amount of money that the Judge orders the defendant to pay the victim as a condition of the defendant’s sentence for the victim’s out-of-pocket losses directly related to the crime.

Sentence: The punishment that the presiding Judge imposes on a defendant found guilty or has plead guilty.

Subpoena: A written order requiring a person to appear in court at a specific date to give testimony.

Summons: A legal order requiring an individual to appear in court.

Trial: A court proceeding where testimony is presented to a Judge or a jury to determine if the defendant is guilty of committing the crime(s).

Verdict: The final determination of a Judge or jury.

Warrant: A legal order to a law enforcement agency to arrest the person named in the order.

Witness: A person who has seen or knows something about the crime.


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