1. Accessory: A person that helps someone else commit a crime, either before or after the crime.
  2. Accomplice: A person who knowingly and voluntarily participates with another in a criminal activity.
  3. Acquittal: A jury verdict that a criminal defendant is not guilty, or the finding of a judge that the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction.
  4. Aggravated Assault: An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
  5. Arraignment: A proceeding during which a judge informs the accused of the criminal charges against him or her, asks the accused whether he or she has an attorney or wants a court-appointed attorney, asks how the accused will plead to the charges, determines whether to modify the initial amount of bail and sets a schedule for future court dates.
  6. Bail: An amount of money that the accused must post so that he or she can get out of jail. If the accused shows up for future court dates, the bail money is returned. If, however, the accused doesn’t show up or flees, the court will keep the money and issue an arrest warrant.
  7. Battery: A beating, or wrongful physical violence. The actual threat to use force is an “assault;” the use of it is a battery, which usually includes an assault.
  8. Bench Warrant: An order issued by a judge for the arrest of a person.
  9. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: The standard in a criminal case requiring that the jury be satisfied to a moral certainty that every element of a crime has been proven by the prosecution. This standard of proof does not require that the state establish absolute certainty by eliminating all doubt, but it does require that the evidence be so conclusive that all reasonable doubts are removed from the mind of the ordinary person.
  10. Bias Crime: A criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin; also known as a hate crime.
  11. Bill of Particulars: A statement of the details of the charge made against the defendant.
  12. Booking: The process of photographing, fingerprinting, and recording identifying data of a suspect. This process follows the arrest.
  13. Burglary: The act of illegal entry with the intent to steal.
  14. Capital Case: A criminal case where the defendant can get the death penalty.
  15. Capital Offense: A crime punishable by death.
  16. Citation: A court order or summons that tells a defendant what the charges are. Also tells the defendant to go to court and/or post bail.
  17. Civil Process: Court papers that tell the people in a civil case that it has started. Or papers that try to force the court to reach a judgment.
  18. Defendant: An individual (or business) against whom a lawsuit is filed. In a civil case, the person or organization against whom the plaintiff brings suit; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
  19. Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Driving or operating a motor vehicle or common carrier while mentally or physically impaired as the result of consuming an alcoholic beverage or using a drug or narcotic.
  20. Due Process of Law: The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel, and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.
  21. Elements of a Crime: Specific factors that define a crime which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction: (1) that a crime has actually occurred, (2) that the accused intended the crime to happen, and (3) a timely relationship between the first two factors.
  22. Embezzlement: The unlawful misappropriation or misapplication by an offender to his/her own use or purpose of money, property, or some other thing of value entrusted to his/her care, custody, or control.
  23. Entrapment: The act of inducing a person to commit a crime so that a criminal charge will be brought against him.
  24. Exclusionary Rule: Doctrine that says evidence obtained in violation of a criminal defendant’s constitutional or statutory rights is not admissible at trial.
  25. Exculpatory Evidence: Evidence indicating that a defendant did not commit the crime.
  26. Expungement: The process by which the record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed.
  27. Extradition: The surrender of an accused criminal by one state to the jurisdiction of another.
  28. Felony: Generally, a crime that is punishable by imprisonment of more than one year.
  29. Forgery and Counterfeiting: The altering, copying, or imitating of something without authority or right, with the intent to deceive or defraud by passing the copy or thing altered or imitated as that which is original or genuine; or the selling, buying, or possession of an altered, copied, or imitated thing with the intent to deceive or defraud.
  30. Fraud: A false representation of a matter of fact which is intended to deceive another.
  31. Grand Jury: The grand jury decides whether there is sufficient evidence to indict a suspect and continue the criminal proceedings against him or her. The grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence.
  32. Indictment: The formal process of charging a person with a crime.
  33. Immunity: Grant by the court, which assures someone will not face prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence.
  34. Impeachment: The process of calling a witness’s testimony into doubt. For example, if the attorney can show that the witness may have fabricated portions of his testimony, the witness is said to be “impeached”
  35. Incriminate: To hold yourself or another person responsible for criminal actions.
  36. Inculpatory Evidence: Evidence indicating that a defendant did commit the crime.
  37. Indictment: 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. See also information.
  38. Justifiable Homicide: The killing of a felon by a peace officer in the line of duty or the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.
  39. Larceny: Obtaining property by fraud or deceit.
  40. Malicious Prosecution: An action instituted with intention of injuring the defendant and without probable cause, and which terminates in favor of the person prosecuted.
  41. Misdemeanor: Generally, a crime for which the maximum possible punishment is incarceration for one year or less.
  42. Miranda Rights: Refers to a suspect’s constitutional right to an attorney and right against self-incrimination. The name comes from the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona (1966). Police must inform suspects of these rights upon arrest or when they detain a suspect. If the police fail to do so, any information obtained from an investigation is inadmissible in court.
  43. Parole: The supervised release of a prisoner from incarceration into the community before the end of his or her sentence.
  44. Plea Bargain: A negotiated agreement between a criminal defendant and a prosecutor that resolves the criminal matter. The prosecutor may agree to reduce a charge, drop one of several charges or recommend a more lenient sentence in exchange for the defendant’s guilty plea, often to a lesser offense.
  45. Probable Cause: Information enough so that there is a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed. Police must have probable cause before arresting a suspect or performing a search. This is also the standard for obtaining a warrant.
  46. Probation: A type of criminal punishment that allows a person to stay in the community (instead of going to jail) as long as he or she complies with certain conditions, such as regularly reporting to a probation officer, refraining from alcohol and drugs and not committing further crimes.
  47. Prosecutor: The attorney who represents the federal, state or local government in a case against a criminal defendant. Also known as district attorney, county attorney, city attorney, United States attorney or state attorney.
  48. Search Warrant: A written order issued by a judge that directs a law enforcement officer to search a specific area for a particular piece of evidence.
  49. Sentence: The punishment for a criminal conviction. The severity of the sentence generally depends on the nature of the crime for which a person is convicted. Sentences include: fines, community service, restitution, alcohol or drug rehab, probation, suspended sentence (only will be implemented if the individual fails to adhere to certain conditions) and incarceration.
  50. Warrant: An order directing or allowing some action to be taken. Generally, a warrant is a document signed by a judge that allows the police to arrest a suspect; search a home, business or other location or seize property.