GLOSSARY of Legal and Criminal Justice Terms
10-Day Hearing: the "return" hearing for a 209A petitioner. The time when both victim and abuser may address the judge.
209A: a term for Massachusetts General Laws chapter 209A, entitled Abuse Prevention, which grants protective orders for abused persons.
51A: a term used to describe actions under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 119 which requires reporting of child abuse.
Accomplice: a person who knowingly and voluntarily aids, assists, cooperates or is an accessory with the principal offender in the commission of a crime.
Accusation: a formal charge against a person, to the effect that he is guilty of a punishable offense, laid before a court or magistrate having jurisdiction to inquire into the alleged crime.
Acquittal: the legal and formal determination that the evidence is not sufficient to prove that a person who has been charged with a crime actually committed it.
Adjudication: the determination or decision made by the court, usually resulting in a judgment of acquittal or a judgment of conviction.
Admission to Sufficient Facts: an acknowledgment on the part of the accused admitting that there is sufficient evidence to warrant a finding of guilty.
Affidavit: a written or printed declaration or statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before a person having authority to administer such oath or affirmation.
Alibi: a defense that places the defendant at the relevant time in a different place than the scene involved and so removed there from as to render it impossible for him to be the guilty party.
Allegation: the assertion, claim, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, made in a pleading, setting out what he expects to prove.
Appeal: a request to a higher court to review the decision of a lower court.
Appellate Court: a court having jurisdiction of appeal and review; a court to which causes are removable by appeals, certiorari, error or report. A reviewing court, and, except in special cases where original jurisdiction is conferred, not a "trial court" or court of first instance.
Arraignment: the initial court appearance of the accused which is held for the purpose of reading the complaint or indictment against the accused, having the accused enter a plea to the charges, and setting bail and other release conditions.
Arrest: the apprehension or detention of an individual by legal authority for the purpose of charging him or her with a specific offense.
Assistant District Attorney: a lawyer for the Commonwealth who represents the interests of the general public (also known as the prosecutor or ADA).
Attorney-Client Privilege: a professional relationship between an attorney and a client which prevents the attorney from disclosing the content of communications with his or her client without the client’s consent.
Bail: an amount of money or property sometimes required by a judge to be paid to the court by the defendant to insure future attendance in court.
Bail Hearing: a hearing entitled to the defendant if he/she feels the amount of bail set by the judge is too excessive. These hearings may occur at any time during the court proceedings once the bail has been set.
Bench Trial: a trial held before a judge without a jury.
Binding Over: the act by which a court or magistrate requires a person to enter into a recognizance or furnishes bail to appear for trial, to keep the peace, to attend as a witness, etc. Also describes act of lower court in transferring case to higher court or to grand jury after a finding of probable cause to believe that defendant committed crime.
CARI: Court Activity Record Information
Charge to Jury: the final address by the judge to the jury before the verdict, in which he sums up the case, and instructs jury as to the rules of law which apply to its various issues, and which they must observe. The term also applies to the address of court to grand jury, in which the latter are instructed as to their duties.
Child in need of services (CHINS): a child below the age of 17 who persistently runs away from home or refuses to obey the lawful and reasonable commands of his or her parent(s) or legal guardian, thereby resulting in that -parent or guardian's inability to adequately care for and protect that child. OR A child between the ages of 6 and 16 who persistently and willfully fails to attend school or persistently violates the lawful and reasonable regulations of his or her school.
Care and Protection: an action from the Department of Children and Family which determines whether or not a child is receiving adequate care. Also referred to as a C&P.
Boston Municipal Court (BMC): the part of the Massachusetts Trial Court which has jurisdiction over certain cases originating within the downtown Boston area.
Burden of Proof: a legal standard which establishes the amount of evidence that must be met for proving a case. The burden of proof in criminal trials requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty of the alleged crime. The burden of proof in civil trials requires plaintiffs to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more likely than not that the facts alleged by the plaintiff occurred.
Case Law: the area of law where legal precedent has been created by earlier published court decisions. This law is distinct from the Constitution, state and federal statutes or administrative regulations but often interprets them.
Cause of Action: the legal basis for a civil lawsuit brought by one party against another, such as the victim against the offender.
Change of Venue: the transfer of a case from one court to another having the same authority but in a different geographic location.
Civil Action: a lawsuit to enforce private rights, to obtain compensation for a violation of those rights, or to recover monetary damages. A civil action is brought directly by the person who is complaining, usually with the help of a private attorney. Civil actions are all types of actions which are not criminal proceedings.
Clerk Magistrate Hearing: also called a “show cause hearing,” can be one of the first stages of the criminal justice system. See Show Cause Hearing.
Co-defendant: one of two or more persons charged in the lawsuit or tried in the same criminal proceedings.
Common Law: as distinguished from law created by the enactment of legislatures, the common law comprises the body of those principles and rules of action, relating to the government and security of persons and property, which derive their authority solely from usages and customs of immemorial antiquity, or from the judgments and decrees of the courts recognizing, affirming, and enforcing such usages and customs; and, in this sense, particularly the ancient unwritten law of England and the American colonies before the American revolution.
Community Based Advocate: an individual who works with victims of crime providing support and resource referrals and is directly associated with a non-governmental agency.
Commutation: an act of the Governor, with the assent of the Governor’s Council, changing a sentence imposed for a crime to a less severe punishment after a formal request from the offender.
Competency: a determination that a defendant has sufficient mental capacity to stand trial and to assist defense counsel in the defense of the charges.
Complaint: a formal written document submitted to the court to formally initiate a civil or criminal proceeding.
Concurrent Sentence: a criminal penalty consisting of two or more sentences of any type which are to be served simultaneously.
Confession: a voluntary statement made by a person charged with the commission of a crime or misdemeanor, communicated to another person, wherein he acknowledges himself to be guilty of the offense charged, and discloses the circumstances of the act or the share and participation which he had in it.
Confidentiality: the state or quality of being confidential treated as private and not for publication.
Consecutive: Successive; succeeding one another in regular order; to follow in uninterrupted succession.
Contempt of Court: the willful failure to obey a court order or the showing of disrespect or unacceptable behavior in the presence of the court.
Continuance: a postponement of a scheduled court event until a future date.
Contingency Fee Basis: when an attorney accepts the case and you are not successful in recovering civil damages, you are not required to pay attorney fees; the attorney’s fee is contingent upon winning a judgment from the defendant.
Continued Without a Finding (CWOF): a procedure by which, after accepting an admission of sufficient facts from a defendant, or finding after trial that there are sufficient facts to support a finding of guilt, the court does not enter a guilty finding, but rather continues the case for a period of time. At the end of that time, if the defendant has not further violated the law and has met the conditions of the continuance, the charge is dismissed.
Conviction: the result of a criminal trial which ends in a verdict or finding that the defendant is guilty.
CORI Certification: a process by which a victim of crime or other citizen becomes eligible to receive certain information about a convicted offender.
Court Officer: uniformed officers who announce the beginnings and end of court sessions, direct victims and witnesses to where they should be seated in the courtroom, and escort defendants and jurors into and out of the courtroom.
Court Order: the decision of a judge on any motion or request by which a particular outcome is granted.
Court Record: official record of court decisions in a particular case.
Court Reporter/Stenographer: the person who records all proceedings in the court room.
Criminal Case: matters or cases concerning acts considered harmful to the general public that are forbidden by law and are punishable by fine, imprisonment or both. Most criminal cases are tried in state courts. Those tried in federal courts generally involve mail fraud, robbery or federally insured banks, or illegal drug importation.
Criminal Responsibility: having sufficient mental capacity to be held responsible for the commission of criminal acts.
Cross-Examination: a part of a trial when questions are asked of a witness by the opposing counsel, following the direct examination, usually in the form of leading questions.
Custodial Parent/Guardianship: the parent who has been given physical custody of a minor child.
Custody: the care and control of a thing or person. The keeping, guarding, care, watch, inspection, preservation or security of a thing, carrying with it the idea of the thing being within the immediate personal care and control of the person whose custody it is subjected. Immediate charge and control, and not the final, absolute control of ownership, implying responsibility for the protection and preservation of the thing in custody. Also the detainer of a man's person by virtue of lawful process or authority.
Damages: a pecuniary compensation or indemnity, which may be recovered in the courts by any person who has suffered loss, detriment, or injury, whether to his person, property, or rights, through the unlawful act or omission or negligence of another. A sum of money awarded to a person injured by the tort of another.
Dangerousness Hearing: court hearing where the judge hears testimony on whether the defendant is a threat to society and he or she should be held without bail.
Deadly Force: force likely or intended to cause death or great bodily harm; may be reasonable or unreasonable, depending on the circumstances.
Default Warrant: a warrant issued to arrest an individual who failed to appear in court when scheduled.
Defendant: a person who is formally charged with committing a crime or, in a civil case, a person against whom an action is filed for monetary damages or to enforce other rights.
Defense Attorney: the attorney representing the defendant in criminal or civil proceedings.
Delinquent Children: an infant of not more than specified age who has violated criminal laws or engages in disobedient, indecent or immoral conduct and is in need of treatment, rehabilitation, or supervision.
Department of Corrections (DOC): the agency responsible for the care, custody and rehabilitation of state prisoners.
Department of Children and Family Services (DCF): the leading state agency that responds to child abuse and neglect reports throughout the Commonwealth.
Department of Mental Health: the state’s Mental Health Authority, assuring and providing access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages, enabling them to live, work and participates in their communities.
Department of Youth Services (DYS): the agency responsible for operating the holding facilities for juveniles who committed offenses between the ages of 7 and 17.
Depositions: pre-trial proceedings in which attorneys for parties in a civil case have the opportunity to question, under oath, the opposing parties and potential witnesses in the case.
Direct Examination: a part of a trial when questions are asked to a witness by the attorney who called that witness to testify.
Dismissal: the formal decision to terminate a court action.
Dismissal with Prejudice: a judge’s decision to terminate the prosecution of a pending charge in a case after which the same criminal charge cannot be brought against the defendant at a later date.
Dismissal without Prejudice: a judge’s decision to terminate the prosecution of a pending charge in a case but which does not prevent the prosecution from bringing the same criminal charge against the defendant in the future.
Discovery: pre-trial process by which both parties seek and obtain the disclosure of facts and evidence about the case from the other.
Disposition: the outcome of a criminal case, usually referring to the sentence imposed.
District Attorney: an elected public official in each county who prosecutes crimes on behalf of the Commonwealth.
District Court Department: the part of the Massachusetts Trial Court which has jurisdiction over all misdemeanor criminal offenses and certain felony criminal offenses, except for parts of Boston over which the Boston Municipal Court has jurisdiction.
Docket: the calendar of court cases awaiting action on a particular day; also refers to the books in which all official court action on a case is recorded.
Double Jeopardy: the constitutional prohibition against a person being tried twice for the same offense.
Due Process: the constitutional guarantee that legal proceedings will be carried out according to basic rules of fairness established for the protection of an individual’s rights.
Earned Credits: a specified period of time which is earned by incarcerated offenders by successfully participating in rehabilitative programs operated by correctional facilities, and is applied as a reduction in the amount of time an offender is to be incarcerated.
Evidence: any type of admissible information presented before a court that relates to or establishes a point in question, the use of which is dictated by the laws and rules of evidence.
Exculpatory: clearing or tending to clear from alleged fault or guilt; excusing.
Ex Parte: on one side only; by or for one party; done for, in behalf of, or on the application of, one party only. A judicial proceeding, order, injunction, etc., is said to be ex parte when it is taken for granted at the instance and for the benefit of only one party only, and without notice to, or contestation by, any person adversely interested.
Ex Parte Hearing: hearings in which the court or tribunal hears only one side of the controversy.
Exhibits: any document or other physical item offered and admitted in evidence at trial.
Expert Witness: a specialist in a particular subject matter whose training and expertise is sought at trial to provide information and opinions on a contested issue and who is approved as an expert witness by the judge.
Finding: the formal decision of “guilty” or “not guilty” made by a judge upon completion of the trial.
Fines: a pecuniary punishment imposed by lawful tribunal upon person convicted of crime or misdemeanor. A pecuniary penalty. It may include a forfeiture or penalty recoverable in a civil action, and, in criminal convictions, may be in addition to imprisonment.
Felony: a criminal offense deemed to be of a more serious nature and punishable by stiffer penalties, including a sentence to state prison.
Furlough: the temporary release of an inmate from a correctional institution for a brief period. Inmates convicted of first degree murder are not eligible for furlough releases.
Grand Jury: a group of 23 citizens whose duty is to receive complaints and hear evidence in criminal cases as presented by the prosecutor and decide whether that evidence is sufficient to charge an individual with a crime by issuing an indictment.
Hearing: a court proceeding in which evidence and arguments on a particular legal issue are presented to a judge.
Hostile Witness: a witness who is antagonistic and adverse to the party who called the person to testify and, therefore, may be questioned by the use of leading questions.
House of Correction: a county correctional facility run by the county sheriff to house defendants awaiting trial and those convicted offenders who are sentenced to shorter terms or for crimes which the law determines to be less serious.
Hung Jury: a jury in a criminal case whose members cannot agree unanimously as to whether the defendant should be found guilty or not guilty. The case may be retried at a later date with a new jury.
Incident Report: a police officer’s written report of a police response to a reported crime.
Indictment: a formal written statement issued by a grand jury concluding that there is sufficient evidence to charge a person with committing a crime.
Injunction: a court order directing one or more persons to refrain from doing specified acts.
Insanity Defense: a criminal defense which is based on the theory that a defendant suffered such a degree of mental impairment that he or she was unable to understand the nature and consequences of his or her criminal actions.
Jail: is usually run by the county sheriff and holds defendants awaiting trials.
Judge: a public official appointed to preside over legal proceedings and decide questions of law brought before the court. The judge may also be the trier of fact in a jury-waived trial.
Judgment: the final decision of the court in a given case resolving legal questions.
Jurisdiction: the subject matter and geographical range of a court’s authority to hear a particular issue.
Jury: a panel consisting of a statutorily defined number of citizens selected according to law and sworn to hear evidence and decide matters of fact in a criminal or civil action and to render a verdict in such action.
Juvenile: a young person who has not yet attained the age at which he or she should be treated as an adult for purposes of criminal law.
Juvenile Court Department: the part of the Massachusetts Trial Court which has jurisdiction over cases of delinquency, children in need of services (CHINS) and Care and Protection petitions.
Juvenile Delinquent: an individual under the age of 17 who has been found to have violated a criminal law.
Leading Question: a question asked by an attorney of a witness which offers information and requires a yes or no answer. Leading questions are permitted only by opposing counsel during cross examination, or of a witness who has been declared a hostile witness during a direct examination.
Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.): the collection of laws set forth by the Massachusetts legislature that are used to govern the Commonwealth.
Mandatory Sentence: a type of sentence which by statute requires that a fixed penalty shall be imposed upon conviction for certain crimes and does not allow a judge discretion in sentencing.
Mediation: a process by which a trained facilitator assists the conflicting parties in reaching a settlement.
Misdemeanor: a criminal offense considered by law to be less serious than a felony which may be punished by a house of correction sentence or a fine, but not by imprisonment in state prison.
Mistrial: a trial which is terminated by a judge prior to its normal conclusion because of circumstances which the judge has concluded prevent fair proceedings, or a trial ending in a hung jury.
Mitigating Circumstances: factors related to the commission of an offense or the offender which do not excuse a criminal act but which may reduce the severity of the sentence for that act.
Motion: an application to the court requesting that an order be issued to bring about a specific action.
Motion for Discovery: a motion made by the defense to determine whether the prosecution has additional evidence or reports that have not been turned over to the defense. This motion is decided by the court and is argued orally by the prosecution and the defense.
Motion to Suppress: a motion made by the defense to eliminate any evidence that has been illegally obtained. These motions are usually evidentiary hearings, which means that there will be an actual hearing with witnesses and testimony. They may be conducted well before the trial date, or just prior to the jury selection process.
Motion to Continue: the prosecution or the defense may motion the court for additional time. Such delays become necessary for a variety of reasons, including the unavailability of witnesses, or when more time is needed for medical testing.
Motion to Dismiss: the defense may motion the court to dismiss one or all of the indictments against the defendant based upon a variety of factors.
Motion for a Required Finding of Not Guilty: a motion made by the defense at the closing of the prosecution's case for a required finding of not guilty due to the lack of sufficient evidence to conclude that the defendant is guilty of each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
No Bill: this phrase, endorsed by a grand jury on the indictment, is equivalent to "not found", "no indictment", or "not a true bill". It means that, in the opinion of the jury, evidence was insufficient to warrant the return of a formal charge.
No Contest/Nolo Contendere: a defendant’s formal response in court in which it is stated that the charges are not contested and which, while not an admission of guilt, subjects the defendant to the same sentencing consequences as a plea of guilty.
Nolle Prosequi: the termination of court action by the prosecutor’s decision not to pursue the case.
Not Guilty: a plea of the general issue in the actions of trespass and case. Plea entered by the accused to criminal charges.
Objection: opposition by either of the parties to some proceeding or evidence in the course of a case on the grounds that what is objected to is illegal or improper. Objections are used to call the court’s attention to improper evidence or procedure. Objections are usually made in open court so that they will appear on the record if there is an appeal.
Overruled: the judge’s denial of any objection raised to the judge. If an objection to a question is overruled, the judge allows the question to be answered and the evidence objected to is admitted for the jury’s or judge’s consideration.
Pardon: an act of the Governor releasing a prisoner from serving the remainder of a sentence.
Parole: the conditional release of an offender from a house of correction or prison prior to completing the sentence imposed, under the supervision of a parole officer, which is granted at the discretion of the Parole Board and subject to its own rules and certain state statutes. Specific conditions can be placed on an offender’s conduct while on parole.
Parole Board: the state agency authorized to determine whether and under what conditions an eligible offender should be released on parole to serve the remainder of his or her sentence in the community. The Parole Board also makes recommendations to the Governor on the merits of petitions for pardons and commutations, supervises all those released on parole, and revokes parole permits for violations of parole conditions.
Parole Officer: an employee of the Parole Board whose responsibility it is to supervise offenders throughout their parole period.
Parole Revocation Hearing: parole revocation hearing is in the nature of an administrative proceeding for the purpose of determining whether a parolee has violated the conditions of his parole.
Peremptory Challenge: removal of a prospective juror without stating a reason. The number of such challenges permitted to the prosecution and the defense is limited, and challenges are not allowed if they are part of an effort to exclude based on race, sex, national origin or other discriminatory factors.
Personal Recognizance: a pre-trial release in which the defendant signs a promise to appear in court whenever notified to do so, but does not pledge anything of value to be forfeited upon non-appearance on a court date.
Plaintiff: the party which brings suit or complaint in court.
Plea Agreement: an admission in court by the defendant to some or all of the charges, based on an agreement that the prosecutor will make a certain sentence recommendation. If the defendant enters a guilty plea, there is no need for a trial.
Police Complaint: a formal charge brought by the police.
Preponderance of the Evidence:is the burden of proof required in a civil trial, were one side provides more convincing evidence and such evidence is probably the truth. See Burden of Proof.
Presentence Report: a report completed by the probation officer and submitted to the judge before the sentencing of a defendant. The report is based on an investigation by the probation officer into the defendant’s background, the circumstances of the crime and information supplied by the victim.
Presumption of Innocence: a fundamental principle of law which assumes that the defendant is innocent of the offense charged, and requires that the prosecution prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.
Pretrial Conference: a meeting, before trial, between the prosecutor and the defense attorney. During this meeting the attorneys may discuss the merits of the case, exchange discovery information, and possibly work out a plea agreement.
Pretrial Hearing: it is a court hearing that happens before the trial, and both attorneys exchange the require information and discuss hoe the case may proceed.
Privileged Communications: statements made by persons with a certain relationship to each other, such as husband/wife, priest/ penitent, attorney/client and doctor/patient, which by law either do not have to be disclosed, or may not be disclosed.
Probable Cause: a set of facts or circumstances which would indicate to a reasonable person that an offense was committed by a particular individual.
Probable Cause Hearing: a court proceeding held before a judge to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to transfer the criminal case from District Court to Superior Court; Also, a court proceeding held before a judge or clerk magistrate to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to hold a defendant who was arrested without an arrest warrant until his or her arraignment.
Probation: a sentence whereby conditional freedom is granted by a judge to a convicted offender. The offender is required to abide by established conditions or face a period of imprisonment.
Probation Department: a court agency whose primary functions include the investigation and supervision of individuals placed on probation by the court and the preparation of presentence reports to assist judges in determining the appropriate penalty.
Probation Officer: an employee of the probation department whose main responsibility is the supervision of a convicted offender who is not incarcerated.
Prosecutor: an attorney employed by a government agency whose primary responsibility is to conduct criminal proceedings against individuals accused of committing criminal offenses. See Assistant District Attorney.
PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. immediate and/or prolonged emotional reactions as a result of victimization.
Public Defender: an attorney employed by a government agency to represent defendants who are unable to pay the costs of hiring an attorney; Also, term sometimes applies to a private attorney when appointed by the court to represent defendants who are unable to pay the costs of hiring an attorney.
Reasonable Doubt: reasonable doubt which will justify acquittal is doubt based on reason and arising from evidence or lack of evidence, and it is doubt which reasonable man or woman might entertain, and is not fanciful doubt, is not imagined doubt, and is not doubt that juror might conjure up to avoid performing unpleasant task or duty.
Redirect: after the “cross-examination” both attorneys have another opportunity to ask you further questions in order to clarify your responses.
Restitution: a condition of a sentence imposed by a court which requires the offender to pay for crime-related financial losses incurred by the victim because of the offender’s crime, such as repair or replacement costs for damaged or stolen property.
Restraining Order: see 209A.
Revise and Revoke: this means that the defendant is seeking to have his/her sentence reviewed by the trial court.
Safety Plan: is a valuable tool to use in abusive relationships or if you are planning on leaving an abusive relationship. Safety plans are tools to help you keep safe. It is important to have a conversation with an advocate when creating a safety plan.
Sentencing: the post-conviction stage of the criminal justice process in which the defendant is brought before the court for imposition of sentence. Usually a trial judge imposes sentence, but in some jurisdictions sentencing is performed by jury or by sentencing councils.
Sentencing Guidelines: an instrument developed to indicate to judges a range of appropriate sentences for a particular offense.
Sequester: to set witnesses apart from the court proceedings so that they do not hear the testimony of other witnesses. Also, to set apart a jury during court proceedings and/or deliberations so that the jurors are not unduly influenced in reaching their verdict in a case.
Sexually Dangerous Person Petition: is a civil proceeding for those convicted on sex offenses during which the District Attorney's Office presents evidence through police reports, trial transcripts, and experts who can offer testimony with regards to the defendant’s current state of mind.
Sheriff: the chief executive and administrative officer of a county, being chosen by popular election. His principal duties are in aid of the criminal courts and civil courts of record; such as serving process, summoning juries, executing judgments, holding judicial sales and the like. He is also chief conservator of the peace within his territorial jurisdiction. When used in statutes, the term may include a deputy sheriff. He is in general charge of the county jail in most states.
Show Cause Hearing: a hearing, usually before a clerk magistrate, that shows reason a criminal charge may be filed.
Split Sentence: one where penalty of fine and imprisonment, as provided by statute, is imposed and imprisonment part is suspended and fine part enforced. It is also exemplified in a sentence by which the defendant serves some time and the balance of the sentence is suspended.
State Prison: a correctional facility run by the Department of Correction to house convicted offenders who are sentenced to longer terms or for crimes which the law determines to be more serious.
Status Offenses: a juvenile crime that would not be a crime if committed by an adult runaway, truancy, stubborn child, etc.
Statute of Limitations: a law which sets forth the period of time within which a civil action or criminal prosecution must be started after the date of the crime or wrongful act.
Statutory Credits: a set amount of time that is automatically deducted from the amount of time an offender is to be incarcerated. This practice was discontinued for offenders convicted of crimes after July 1, 1994.
Stay Away Order: an order by a judge were the defendant is told not to contact the victim or witness of the criminal case.
Subpoena: a court-issued written command to appear at a certain time to give testimony about a crime or other matter.
Superior Court Department: the part of the Massachusetts Trial Court which has jurisdiction over all crimes and generally exercises jurisdiction over the most serious felony matters (those carrying potential sentences of ten years or more in state prison).
Supreme Judicial Court: the highest court in the state (court of last resort). 7 justices sit on the court; 5 justices sit en banc. Mandatory jurisdiction in civil, criminal, judge disciplinary, advisory opinion, and original proceeding cases. Discretionary jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile and interlocutory decision cases.
Suspended Sentence: a conviction of a crime followed by a sentence that is given formally, but not actually served. A suspended sentence in criminal law means in effect that defendant is not required at the time sentence is imposed to serve the sentence.
Sustain: a judge’s acceptance of any objection. If an objection is sustained, the evidence or conduct objected to will not be admitted for the jury’s or judge’s consideration.
Testimony: statements given under oath by witnesses as evidence in court.
Time Served: a period of time spent in confinement during the pendency of a case, prior to conviction and sentence, which is subtracted from the amount of time an offender is required to be incarcerated.
Transfer Hearing: is held to determine whether a juvenile defendant should be tried as an adult.
Trial: a legal proceeding consisting of an examination in court of the issues of fact and law in a case, for the purpose of reaching a judgment of conviction or acquittal of the defendant in a criminal case or the liability and damages caused by a defendant in a civil case.
Trial Court: the court of original jurisdiction; the first court to consider litigation. Used in contrast to appellate court.
True Bill: the endorsement made by a grand jury upon a bill of indictment, when they find it sustained by the truth of the accusation. The endorsement made by a grand jury when they find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal charge. An indictment.
Truth in Sentencing Law: enacted July 1, 1994, changes the formula for determining parole eligibility dates for offenders who committed crimes after July 1, 1994.
Vacate: To annul; to set aside; to cancel or rescind. To render an act void; as, to vacate an entry of record, or a judgment. As applied to a judgment or decree it is not synonymous with "suspend" which means to stay enforcement of judgment or decree.
Venue: a place from which a jury is drawn and where a trial is held.
Verdict: a formal decision by a jury at the end of the trial.
Victim: one who has suffered as the result of the commission of a crime or some other wrong.
Victim Impact Statement: a written or oral statement made by the victim to the court at sentencing describing the physical, emotional and financial effects of the crime and recommending a sentence to be imposed on the offender.
Victim Witness Advocate: an individual employed by the prosecutor’s office or other criminal justice agency to inform crime victims of their rights and available services and to assist them through the criminal justice system.
Voir Dire: a process of examining prospective jurors by prosecutors and defense attorneys through which persons who might be biased or incapable of rendering a fair verdict may be screened out of the jury pool.
Warrant: an order issued by a court which directs a law enforcement officer to arrest a person, search a location, seize an object, or do some other specified act.
Witness: someone who has personal knowledge of relevant circumstances of a case and who testifies under oath as to what has been seen, heard, or otherwise observed by that person.
Witness Fee: a token fee provided to victims and other witnesses to cover travel expenses for each day they are required to come to court or otherwise participate in a criminal proceeding.
Youthful Offender: a juvenile who, between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, is charged with a felony and has previously been committed to the Department of Youth Services, or has committed an offense which involves the infliction or threat of serious bodily harm, or has committed certain firearm offenses.