Criminal Jurisprudence Definition of Terms
Abandonment - a parent or guardian leaving a child without adequate supervision for the child's needs for an excessive period.
Acquittal - a verdict after a trial that a defendant in a criminal case has not been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged.
Action - lawsuit brought by one or more individuals seeking redress for or prevention of a wrong or protection of a right.
Actus reus - proof that a criminal act has occurred.
Adjudicated - settled in a court of law.
Adjudicated father - man determined by the court to be the father usually through a court action and genetic testing.
Adjudication - giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree;also the judgment given.Decision made by a court or administrative agency with respect to a case.
Administrative documentation - records such as case-related conversations, evidence receipts, description of evidence packaging and seals, and other pertinent information.
Administrative review - an evaluation of the case report and supporting documentation for consistency with laboratory policies, editorial correctness and compliance with the submission request.
Admissible - evidence that can be legally and properly introduced in a civil or criminal trial.
Adoption - legal proceeding in which an adult takes as his/her lawful child an individual usually a minor who is not the adoptive parents or natural offspring.
Adversary system - trial methods in which opposing parties are given full opportunity to present and establish their evidence and to test by cross-examination the evidence presented by their adversaries under established rules of procedures before an impartial judge.
Affidavit - a sworn statement by a witness.
Affirmative defense - without denying the charge, defendant raises extenuating or mitigating circumstance such as insanity, self-defense, or entrapment to avoid civil or criminal responsibility.
Affirmed - in the practice of the appellate court, the word means that the decree or order at issue is declared valid and will stand as rendered in the lower court.
Amicus curiae - friend of the court, a person who petitions the court for permission to provide information to the court on a matter of law that is in doubt or one who is not a party to a lawsuit but who is allowed to introduce evidence, arguments or authority to protect one's interest.
Appeal - a request by the losing party in a lawsuit that the judgment be reviewed by a higher court.Request to a higher court to change the decision of a trial court, usually appeals are made and decided on questions of law only.Issues of fact are left to the trial judge discretion.
Arraignment - in a criminal case, the proceeding in which an accused person is brought before a judge to hear the charges filed against him or her and to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Arrest - process of taking a person into custody.
Assault - intentional display of force that would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm.
Attest - to bear witness; to affirm as true or genuine.
Attorney-at-law - an officer in a court of justice who is employed by a party in a case to manage it for him.
Bail - money or security given to secure a person's release from custody which is at risk should he/she subsequently fail to appear before the court.
Bail bond - the obligation signed by the accused to secure his/her presence at the trial which he/she may lose by not properly appearing for trial.
Bailiff - a court attendant who keeps order in the court room.
Bar - the term means the whole body of lawyer's.Historically, the partition separating the general public from the space occupied by the judge's, lawyer's, and other participants in a trial.
Battered woman syndrome - a collection of symptoms that are manifest in women who have suffered prolonged and extensive abuse from their spouses.
Beyond reasonable doubt - the standard in a criminal case requiring that court be satisfied to a moral certainty that every element of a crime has been proven by the prosecution, all reasonable doubt are removed from the mind of the ordinary person.
Bill of Particulars - a statement used to inform the defense of the specific occurrences intended to be investigated in trial and to limit the course of evidence to the particular scope of the inquiry.An amplification of the pleading.
Booking - the process of photographing, fingerprinting, and recording identifying data of a suspect following arrest.
Brief - a written statement prepared by one side in a lawsuit to explain to the court its view of the facts of a case and the applicable law.
Brutalization - the proposition that the use of capital punishment actually increases the crime rate by sending a message that it is acceptable to kill those who have wronged us.
Capital crime - a crime punishable by death.
Case law - law created as a by-product of a court decisions made in resolving unique disputes as distinguished from statutory law.
Case records - all notes, reports, custody, records, charts, analytical data, and correspondence generated pertaining to a particular case.
Caveat - a warning; a note of caution.
Certification - procedure by which a certifying body formally recognizes that a body or person complies with given qualifications.
Chambers - a judge's private office.
Child abuse - act of commission that is not accidental and that harms or threatens to harm a child's physical or mental health or welfare.
Child neglect - failure of a parent or other person legally responsible for a child's welfare to provide for the child's basic needs and a proper level of care with respect to food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, medical attention , or supervision.Child neglect is an act of omission.
Circumstantial evidence - that evidence that only suggests an association with a past occurrence.Any evidence in a case for which an inference is needed to relate it to the crime.Not observed by an eyewitness.Fact from which another fact can be reasonably inferred.
Civil commitment - the legal proceeding by which a person who is mentally ill and imminently dangerous is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital.
Closing argument - also known as final argument, attorney's final statement to the court summing up the case and the points points proven as well as those points not proven by opposing counsel.
Common law - body of law based on judicial decisions (precedents or customs and usage) generally derived from justice, reason and common sense rather than legislative enactments.
Competency - possession of characteristics that qualify a witness to observe, recall, and testify under oath; personal qualification of the witness to give testimony which differs from the witness ability to tell the truth.
Complainant - the party who complain or sues, one who applies to the court for legal redress, also called the plaintiff.
Concur - to agree with the judgment of another.When one court concurs with another, it agrees with or follows the precedent set by that court's decision.
Concurrent sentence - sentences for more than one violation that are to be served at the same time rather that one after the other.
Confession - an oral or written statement acknowledging guilt.
Consent search - exception to the requirement for a search warrant; written or oral permission is required from a person with authority to give it.
Conspiracy - a combination of two or more person whose purpose is to commit unlawful or criminal act or to commit a lawful act by criminal means.
Contempt of court - willful disobedience of a judge's command or of an official court order.
Continuance - court order that postpones legal action, such as a court hearing until later time.
Conviction - a judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.
Corpus delicti - the proof that a crime has been committed, consisting of two components 1. that each element of the crime be satisfied 2. that someone is responsible for inflicting the injury or loss sustained.
- Body of the crime.
Court martial - military tribunal that has jurisdiction over offenses against laws of the service in which the member is engaged.Military status is not sufficient,the crime must be service connected.
Court order - directive issued by the court, and is enforceable as law; written command or directive given by the judge.
Court of Appeals - a court that hears an appeal after a trial court has made a judgment.
Criminal prosecution - process that begins with the filing of charges against a person who has allegedly violated criminal law and includes the arraignment and trial of the defendant.Criminal prosecution may result in fine, restitution, imprisonment, or probation.
Cross-examination - the questioning of a witness produced by the other side.
Custody hearing - legal process, usually in family and juvenile court, to determine who has the right
Damages - money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful act or negligence of another person.
Dauber test - a standard for determining the reliability of scientific expert testimony in court currently adopted by many jurisdictions.Five factors are utilized to assess the scientific theory or technique testing of theory, use of standards and control, peer review, error rate, and acceptability in the relevant scientific community.
Decision - the judgment reached or given by a court of law.
Default judgment - a decision of the court against the defendant because of failure to respond to a plaintiff's action.
Defendant - in a civil case, the person being sued. In a criminal case, the person charged with a crime.
Deposition - oral or written testimony under oath but outside the court room.
Detention - temporary confinement of a person by a public authority.
Diminished capacity - a variation of the insanity defense that is applicable if the defendant lacks the ability to meaningfully premeditate the crime.
Direct evidence - proof of facts by witnesses who saw acts done or heard words spoken as distinguished from circumstantial or indirect evidence.Information offered by witnesses who testify about their own knowledge of the facts.
Direct examination - the first questioning of witnesses by the party in whose behalf they are called.
Direct questions - queries that are phrased in a positive and confident manner, are stated clearly and address the topic in a forthright manner.
Discovery - a pre-trial procedure by which one party can obtain vital facts and information material to the case to assist in preparation for the trial.The purpose of discovery is to make for a fair trial and to allow each party to know what document and information the opponents has in its possession.
Dismissal - action by the court that removes the court's jurisdiction over a given case.
Diversion - the process of removing some minor criminal, traffic or juvenile cases from the full judicial process on the condition that the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for damages.Diversion may take place before the trial or its equivalent.
Docket - a list of cases to be heard by the court.
Double jeopardy - putting a person on trial more than once for the same crime.
Dying declaration - a statement made just prior to death with the knowledge of impending death.Also called ante-Morten statement.
Element of a crime - specific factors that define a crime, every element of which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction.
Entrapment - an act by enforcement agencies that lures an individual into committing a crime not otherwise contemplated for the purpose of prosecuting him/her.
Evidentiary standards - guidelines used in examining evidence to determine whether it has been legally collected and whether it is factual and legally proves or is relevant to the case being heard.
Ex-parte order - an order issued by a judge on its own.
Exclusionary rule - the rules that defines whether evidence is admissible in a trial.
Exigent circumstances - exception to the requirement for a search warrant when there is no time to get a warrant and failure to search will lead to destruction or concealment of evidence, injury to police or others, or escape of the suspect.
Expert testimony - statements given to the court by witnesses with special skills or knowledge in some arts, science, profession, or technical area.Experts educate the court by assisting it in understanding the evidence or in determining an issue of fact.
Expert witness - a legal term used to describe a witness who by reason of his/her special technical training or experience is permitted to express an opinion regarding the issue or a certain aspect of the issue that is involve in a court action.
Expunge - to strike out, obliterate, or mark for deletion from the court record.
Extradition - the process by which one state surrenders to another state a person accused or convicted of a crime in the other state.
Felony - a crime of a graver nature than a misdemeanor, usually punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary for more than a year or a substantial fine.
Fence - a person in the business of buying stolen goods, usually for resale; to buy or sale stolen goods.
Fraud - an intentional misrepresentation or deception employed to deprive another of property or a legal right or to otherwise do them harm.
Frye standard - a set of standards set by the the court of appeals of the district of Columbia in 1923 in the U.S in Frye vs. the United states.The standards in general define when a new scientific test should be admissible as evidence in the court system.
Frye test - a test emphasizing that the subject of an expert witness's testimony must conform to a generally accepted explanatory theory.
Gag order - a trial judge's order to attorney's and witnesses not to talk to the press about the case.
Gault decision - land mark U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming that juveniles are entitled to the same due process rights as adults the right to counsel, the right to notice of the charges, the right to confront and cross-examine a witness, the right to remain silent, and the right to subpoena witnesses in defense.
Habeas corpus - a writ that commands that a person be brought before a judge.A writ of habeas corpus is a legal document that forces law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding and to legally justify his or her detention.
Hearing - judicial or legal examination of the issues of law and fact between the parties.
Hearsay - a statement made during a trial or hearing that is not based on the personal, first hand knowledge of the witness.Statement made out of court and offered in court to support the truth of the facts asserted in the statement.
Hearsay rule - the regulation making a witness's statement inadmissible if it is not based on personal knowledge unless it falls within certain exceptions.
Holographic document - any document completely written and signed by one person.A holographic may be probated without anyone having witnessed its execution.
Hostile witness - a witness whose testimony is not favorable to the party who calls him or her as witness.
Immunity - grant by the court in which someone will not face prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence.
Inadmissible evidence - the testimony/evidence that the judge rules as not proper and hence instructs its disregard.
Incompetency - lacking the physical, intellectual,or moral capacity or qualification to perform a required duty.
Indeterminate sentence - a sentence of imprisonment to a specified minimum and maximum period of time, specifically authorized by statute, subject to termination by a parole board or or other authorized agency after the prisoner has served the minimum term.
Infraction - a violation of law not punishable by imprisonment.Minor traffic offenses are generally considered infractions.
Injunction - a preventive measure by which a court orders a party to refrain from doing a particular act.A preliminary injunction is granted provisionally until a full hearing can be held to determine if it should be made permanent.
Interrogatories - set of specialized questions sent by one attorney to another concerning requested information of their respective clients relevant to the case.
Judgement - the final disposition of a case.
Judgement,default - default judgment is rendered because of the defendant's failure to answer or appear.
Judgement,summary - summary judgment is given on the basis of pleadings, affidavits, and exhibits presented for the record without any need for a trial.It is used when there is no dispute as to the facts of the case and one party is entitled to judgement as a matter of law.
Judicial review - authority of a court to review the official actions of other branches of government, also the authority to declare unconstitutional the actions of other branches.
Jurisdiction - the nature and scope of a court's authority to hear or decide a case.Inherent power and authority of a particular court to hear and determine cases.
Justice - fairness, providing outcomes to each party in line with what they deserve.
Juvenile - characteristic of youth, youth means under 18 years of age.
Juvenile court - a court which decides criminal charges brought against children under 18 years of age.
Leading question - a question that suggest the answer desired of a witness.A party generally may not ask one's own witness leading questions, leading questions may be ask only of hostile witnesses and on cross-examination.
Legal custody - right and responsibility to make the decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of a child/person.
Liable - responsible or answerable for some action.
Litigation - a case, controversy, or lawsuit.
Malfeasance - the commission of an unlawful, wrongful act; any wrongful conduct that affects, interrupts, or interferes with the performance of official duties.
Malpractice - improper or unethical conduct by the holder of a professional or official position.
Mass murder - a murder incident in which several victims are killed simultaneously or within a relatively short period of time in the same general area.
Miranda warning - requirements that police tells a suspect in their custody of his/her constitutional right before they questions him.Result of the Miranda vs. Arizona ruling.Law enforcement procedure that forewarns suspects of their right to remain silent when in police custody.Violation of this right makes the suspect's confession inadmissible in evidence.
Misdemeanor - criminal offenses considered less serious than felonies.Misdemeanor are generally punishable by fine or a limited local jail term in the local jail.
Mistrial - a trial that is terminated before its normal conclusion and declared invalid prior to judgment.
Mitigating circumstance - factors such as age, mental capacity, motivation, or duress which lessens the degree of guilt in a criminal offense and thus the nature of the punishment.
M'naghten rule - the test applied for the defense of insanity.Under this test, an accused is not criminally responsible if suffering from a mental disease or defect at the time of committing the act and not understanding the nature and quality of the act or that what was done was wrong.
Moot - is one not subject to a judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a pretended controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has already passed.
Motion - an application for a rule or order, made to a court or judge.An application to the court requesting an order or a rule in favor of the applicant.
Objection - the process by which one party takes exception to some statement or procedure.An objection is either sustained or overruled by the judge.If the judge overrules the objection, the witness may answer the question.If the judge sustain the objection, the witness may not answer the question.
Omnibus hearing - hearing held in criminal court to dispose of appropriate issues such as whether evidence is admissible before trial so as to ensure a fair and expeditious trial and avoid a multiplicity of court appearances.
Opening statements - not part of the evidence, these orations made by the lawyers on each side gives an overview of the evidence that will be presented during the trial.
Opinion - conclusion reported by a witness who qualified as an expert on a given subject.
Order - any written directive of a court or judge other than a judgment.
Order to show cause - order to appear in court and present reasons why a particular order should not be executed.
Overrule - judge's decision not to allow an objection.Decision by a higher court finding that a lower court
Pardon - a form of executive clemency removing or extinguishing criminal convictions.
Physical evidence - any tangible article that tends to prove or disprove a point in question.
Plain view - an exception to the requirement for a search warrant, when there is an evidence of a crime in plain view by a person who sees it lawfully.
Plaintiff - the complaining party in litigation.
Plea - in a criminal proceeding, it is the defendant's declaration in open court that he or she is guilty or not guilty.The defendant's answer to the charges made in the information.
Plea bargaining - the process through which an accused person and a prosecutor negotiate a mutually satisfactory disposition of a case.
Preliminary hearing - in criminal law, the hearing at which a judge determines whether there is sufficient evidence against a person charged with a crime to warrant holding him or her for trial.
Preponderance of evidence - the standard for a judgment in a civil suit, the evidence for one side outweighs that of the other even a slight margin.
Presumption - an inference resulting from a rule of law or the proven existence of a fact that requires such rule or action to be established in the action.
Pre-trial conference - a meeting between the judge and the lawyers involved in a lawsuit to narrow the issues in the suit, agree on what will be presented at the trial and make a final effort to settle the case without trial.
Prima facie evidence - evidence that, in the judgment of the law, is good and sufficient to establish a given fact or a chain of facts making up a party's claim or defense.If such evidence is unexplained or uncontradicted, it is sufficient to obtain a favorable judgment for the issue it supports, may be contradicted by other evidence.
Probable cause - a reasonable ground for suspicion, supported by the circumstances sufficiently strong to justify the issuance of a search warrant or to make an arrest.Reasonable ground for believing that a crime has been committed or that the person committed the crime.
Prosecutor - a trial lawyer representing the government in a criminal case.
Protective custody - the confinement or guardianship of an individual by law enforcement with the objective of preventing an assault or other crimes against him/her.
Public defender - (ex.PAO)government lawyer who provides free legal defense services to a poor person accused of crime.
Putative father - a man accused but not proven to be the biological father of an offspring.
Quid pro Quo - something for something, as in making a deal (ex.plea bargaining)
Rape - sexual intercourse between a man and a woman without the women's consent.
Reasonable doubt - doubt that arises from evidence or lack thereof and would be entertained by a reasonable or prudent person.Reasonable doubt requires acquittal.
Reasonable suspicion - a term referring to police officer's justification for stopping and frisking a person.A mere hunch is not a reasonable suspicion.
Rebuttal - the presentation of evidence to counter or disprove facts previously introduced by the adverse party.
Recess - an adjournment of a trial or a hearing that is temporary and occurs after the commencement of the trial.If there is going to be a substantial delay, it is called continuance.A temporary dismissal is called sine die.
Record - document that furnishes objective evidence of activities performed or results achieved.
Recross - to cross-examine a witness a second time after redirect examination.
Re-direct examination - opportunity to present rebuttal evidence after one's evidence has been subjected to cross-examination.
Redirect questioning - questioning by the original attorney that follows the opposing counsel's cross-examination.
Release on recognizance - a court order releasing a defendant from custody on the defendant's written promise to appear in court when the defendant's case is scheduled for hearing, trial or other proceeding.A defendant who is released on recognizance is not required to deposit money or other property with the court in order to be released.
Res gestae - all of the things done or words spoken in the course of the transaction or event;A record of what was said or done in the first moments of an investigation.
Rest - a party is said o have rest its case when it has presented all of the evidence in intends to offer.
Robbery - felonious taking of another's property from his person or immediate presence and against his will by means of force or fear.
Rules of evidence - standards governing whether evidence in a civil or criminal case is admissible.
Search and seizure - the body of law that covers the issue of examining a persons property with the intention of finding evidence not in plain view (search) and taking possession of that property against the will of its owner or possessor (seizure)
Sentence - a court's determination of the punishment to be inflicted on a person convicted of a crime.
Sentencing - last stage of criminal prosecution in which a convicted defendant is imprisoned, fined, ordered to pay restitution, or granted a conditional release from custody.
Sequestration of witnesses - also called separation of witnesses, prevents a witness from being influenced by the testimony of a prior witness.
Statute of limitation - the time within which a lawsuit must be brought ot the time within which evidence must be analyzed.
Stipulation - an agreement by both sides of a case about some aspect of a lawsuit or criminal trial.
Subpoena - a written command summoning a specific individual to appear in court under penalty for failure to do so.
Subpoena duces tecum - a court order commanding a witness to bring certain documents or records to court.
Subrogation - substituting one creditor for another.
Summary judgment - decision made by a trial court based on written documentation submitted before any trials occur.
Summons - a notice to the defendant that he/she has been sued and is required to appear in court.
Suppression hearing - a hearing before a judge, in which one of the attorney's argues that certain evidence should not be admitted at trial.
Temporary restraining order - (TRO) a judge's order forbidding certain actions until a full hearing can be heard.
Testimony - evidence given by a witness under oath. does not include evidence from documents and other physical evidence.
Trial - judicial examination and determination of issues of law and fact disputed by parties to lawsuit.
Trial court - local court that initially hears all cases in dispute.
Validation - confirmation by examination and provision of objective evidence that the particular requirements for a specific intended use are fulfilled.
Venue - synonymous with the place of trial.
Wanton - characterized by reckless disregard of consequences and the safety and welfare of others.
Warrant - a court order authorizing law enforcement officers to make an arrest or conduct a search.
Warrant of Arrest - an order issued by a judge for the arrest of a person.
Witness - one who testifies to what he/she has seen, heard, or otherwise experienced.
Writ - a mandatory precept issued by an authority in the name of the sovereign or the state for the purpose of compelling a person to do something.