The person against whom an accusation is made.Acquittal
Judgment that a criminal defendant has not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, a verdict of “not guilty.”

A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.

A request made after a trial by a party that has lost on one or more issues that a higher court (appellate court) review the trial court’s decision to determine if it was correct. To make such a request is “to appeal” or “to take an appeal.” One who appeals is called the “appellant;” the other party is the “appellee.”

About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgment of a lower court (trial court) or tribunal. For example, the U.S. circuit courts of appeals review the decisions of the U.S. district courts.

Arraignment of an accused consists of calling upon him by name, reading to him the charges in the arrest documents, and demanding of him how he pleads. This hearing may be combined with a right to counsel hearing.

The action of the police, or person acting under the law, to take a person into custody so that they may be forthcoming to answer for the commission of a crime.

Arrest Warrant
A warrant issued by a public officer that authorizes the arrest and detention of an individual.

Security given for the release of a criminal defendant or witness from legal custody to secure his appearance on the day and time set by the court.

Bail Bondsman
Any person in the business of becoming or engaging in a surety on a bail bond for compensation, and includes any agent of such person.

Bail Forfeiture
Order by the court that the surety pay to the court the amount of security pledged for failure of an accused to comply with the requirements of the bond.

Bounty Hunter
An individual who seeks out fugitives (‘Hunting’) for a monetary reward (‘Bounty’), for apprehending by law, if such laws exist.

A written statement submitted by each party in a case that explains why the court should decide the case, or particular issues in a case, in that party’s favor.

Capital Offense
A crime punishable by death.

A judge’s office, typically including work space for the judge’s law clerks and secretary.

In criminal law, the crime a person is accused of.

A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.

Legal advice; a term also used to refer to the lawyers in a case.

Court Order
A command or mandatory direction of a judge which is made during a case. Also includes a command of the judge which established courtroom or administrative procedures.

Criminal TrialĀ 
A criminal trial is designed to resolve accusations brought by the government against a person accused of a crime.

Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.

Any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute.

An oral statement made before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. Such statements are often taken to examine potential witnesses, to obtain discovery, or to be used later in trial.

The process by which lawyers learn about their opponent’s case in preparation for trial. Typical tools of discovery include depositions, interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for documents. All of these devices help the lawyer learn the relevant facts and collect and examine any relevant documents or other materials.

A log containing the complete history of each case in the form of brief chronological entries summarizing the court proceedings.

Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case in favor of one side or the other.

Failure to appear (FTA)
Failure to appear in court as promised is a violation of the law which may result in an arrest warrant, fines, and other penalties. Any time an individual has a duty, or has made an agreement, to appear in court, they can be penalized for failure to appear. A failure to appear can involve a traffic court appointment, jury services, a civil case, or a criminal case.

Failure to appear Felony
A serious crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.

A person who is fleeing from custody, whether it be from a government arrest, government or non-government questioning, vigilante violence, or outraged private individuals.

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
A writ (court order) that is usually used to bring a prisoner before the court to determine the legality of his imprisonment. Someone imprisoned in state court proceedings can file a petition in federal court for a “writ of habeas corpus,” seeking to have the federal court review whether the state has violated his or her rights under the U.S. Constitution. Federal prisoners can file habeas petitions as well. A writ of habeas corpus may also be used to bring a person in custody before the court to give testimony or to be prosecuted.

Statements by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else. Hearsay is usually not admissible as evidence in court.

Imprisonment; confinement in a jail or penitentiary.

The formal charge issued by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to justify having a trial; it is used primarily for felonies

Initial Appearance
The procedure by which an arrested defendant is promptly brought before a judicial officer who advises the defendant of the charges against him, his right to counsel, and his first day to appear in court and establishes conditions of pre-trial release. It also includes a probable cause determination on a warrant-less arrest and advice of preliminary hearing in felony cases.

An official who presides over a court and are required to be impartial and not influenced by outside factors.

A sworn body of persons convened to render a rational, impartial verdict and a finding of fact on a legal question officially submitted to them, or to set a penalty or judgment in a jury trial of a court of law.

Jury Trial
Trial is held before a group of disinterested members of the community.

Licensed Bail Agent
A licensed bail agent is a person or company authorized by a governmental regulatory agency to arrange bail for people accused of crimes. Licensing ensures that your bail agent engages is legitimate practices and can be held accountable for any misdoings.

A minor criminal offense.

An invalid trial, caused by fundamental error. When a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again with the selection of a new jury.

A request by a litigant to a judge for a decision on an issue relating to the case.

An act that violates a law.

A complaining party in a civil action.

In a criminal case, the defendant’s statement pleading “guilty” or “not guilty” in answer to the charges.

Written statements filed with the court which describe a party’s legal or factual assertions about the case.

Pretrial Services
A department of the district court that conducts an investigation of a criminal defendant’s background in order to help a judge decide whether to release the defendant into the community before trial.

A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision of a probation officer, who makes certain that the defendant follows certain rules (e.g., gets a job, gets drug counseling, etc.).

Probation Officer
Officers of the probation office of a court. Probation officer duties include conducting presentence investigations, preparing presentence reports on convicted defendants, and supervising released defendants.

Typically lawyers who possess a university degree in law, are recognized as legal professionals by the court in which they intend to represent the state.

A promise made by the accused to the court that said person will attend all required judicial proceedings and will not engage in further illegal activity or other prohibited conduct as set by the court. Typically a monetary amount is set by the court, but is not paid by the defendant unless it is forfeited by the court. Other forms of punishment, such as imprisonment, may still be levied by the court for those failing to appear when required. Also known as Own Recognizance.

(1.) Send back a case to the trial court or lower appellate court for action or
(2.) The imprisonment of criminal suspects awaiting trial or sentencing. A prisoner who is denied, refused or unable to meet the conditions of bail, or who is unable to post bail, may be held in a prison on remand.

The punishment ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime.

Sentencing Guidelines
A set of rules and principles established by the United States Sentencing Commission that trial judges use to determine the sentence for a convicted defendant.

To separate. Sometimes juries are sequestered from outside influences during their deliberations.

A law passed by a legislature.

A command, issued under authority of a court or other authorized government entity, to a witness to appear and give testimony.

One who makes himself responsible for the defendant’s obligation to appear in court and agrees to pay money or do other acts in the event that the defendant does not appear.

A person, known or unknown, suspected of committing a crime.

Temporary Restraining Order
Prohibits a person from taking an action that is likely to cause irreparable harm. This differs from an injunction in that it may be granted immediately, without notice to the opposing party, and without a hearing. It is intended to last only until a hearing can be held. Sometimes referred to as a “T.R.O.”

Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.

A written, word-for-word record of what was said, either in a proceeding such as a trial, or during some other formal conversation, such as a hearing or oral deposition.

The presentation of information in a formal setting, usually a court

U.S. Attorney
A lawyer appointed by the President in each judicial district to prosecute and defend cases for the federal government. The U.S. Attorney employs a staff of Assistant U.S. Attorneys who appear as the government’s attorneys in individual cases.

The geographical location in which a case is tried.

The decision of a trial jury or a judge that determines the guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant, or that determines the final outcome of a civil case.

An authorization, typically issued by a judge or magistrate, which commands an act to be performed for instance a warrant for an arrest.

A person called upon by either side in a lawsuit to give testimony before the court or jury.

A formal written command or order, issued by the court, requiring the performance of a specific act