Accusation A charge or complaint files accusing a person of having committed a crime.
Acquittal The judgment that a criminal defendant has not been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Adjudication The process by which a court arrives at a decision regarding a case.
Affidavit A written statement of facts made under oath.
Alias Any name used for an official purpose that is different from a person's legal name.
Alibi A statement or contention by an individual charged with a crime that his or her participation in the crime was impossible.
Annulment A legal action that says your marriage was never legally valid, for example, in cases of incest, bigamy, or being too young to consent.
Appeal A process by which a higher court is requested by a party to review the decision of a lower court.
Arraignment When a person that is accused of committing a crime is:
Arrest Warrant A document issued by a judicial officer which directs a law enforcement officer to arrest an identified person who has been accused of a specific crime.
Bail To effect the release of an accused person from jail, in return for a promise that they will appear at a specified time and place to submit to the jurisdiction and judgment of the court, guaranteed by a pledge to pay a specified sum of money or property to the court if the person does not appear.
Bench Trial A trial without a jury in which the judge decides the facts.
Bench Warrant A document issued by the court directing law enforcement to bring the identified person before the court. Usually issued for a person who has failed to obey a court order or a notice to appear.
Burden of Proof The duty of a party to prove a fact or a claim by presenting enough evidence to establish it is true.
Capacity "Competency in Law", a person's ability to understand the nature and effect of the act in which they are engaged.
Change of Venue The movement of a case to another court or jurisdiction.
Civil Law The body of law that determines private rights and liabilities.
Closing Argument An oral summation of a case presented to a judge and jury by the prosecuting or defense in a criminal trial.
Complaint (or petition) A document filed with the Court to initiate a case by one party against another party for relief.
Consecutive Interpretation Interpretation which requires the interpreter to allow the speaker to complete his or her thought or statement before attempting interpretations.
Contempt of Court An act or omission tending to obstruct or interfere with the orderly administration of justice, or to impair the dignity of the court or the respect for its authority.
Continuance The adjournment or postponement of an action or proceeding pending in a court until some future date.
Court Calendar or Court Docket The court schedule.
Court of General Jurisdiction A court having jurisdiction to try all classes of civil and criminal cases except those which can be heard only by a court of limited jurisdiction.
Court of Limited Jurisdiction A court whose jurisdiction is limited to civil cases of a certain type of which involve a limited amount of money, or whose jurisdiction in criminal cases is confined to petty offenses and preliminary hearings.
Criminal Law The branch of law that specifies what conduct constitutes crime and establishes appropriate punishment for such conduct.
Default judgment Judgment entered against a party who has failed to answer or defend against a claim that has been brought by another party
Deposition The transcript of a witness's testimony given under oath outside of the courtroom.
Equity A system of law that supplements the statutory and case law and is administered according to fairness.
Evidence Anything useful to a judge or jury in deciding the facts of a case. May be in the form of witness testimony, written documents, videotapes, photographs, physical objects, etc...
Felony A criminal offense punishable by death or jail time of at least one year.
First Appearance Appearance before a magistrate during which the legality of the defendant's arrest is initially assessed and the defendant is informed of the charges on which they are being held. Bail may be set at this time.
General Jurisdiction The type of jurisdiction possessed by a trial court; a court having jurisdiction to try all classes of civil and criminal cases except for those which can be heard only by a court of limited jurisdiction.
Hearing A proceeding in which arguments, witnesses, or evidence is heard by a judicial officer of an administrative body.
Indictment A charge made in writing by a grand jury, based upon evidence presented to it, accusing a person of having committed a crime.
Indigent This term usually refers to a person who is needy and poor, and has no one to look to for support.
In forma pauperis An affidavit made by an indigent person seeking free public assistance
Interpretation The unrehearsed transmitting of a spoken message from one language to another.
Jurisdiction (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case; (2) the geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases; (3) the territory, subject matter, or persons over which lawful authority may be exercised by a court.
Litigation A legal action; a lawsuit.
Motion A formal request by a party to have the Court rule on one or more of the issues involved in a case.
Penal Code The written, organized and compiled form of the criminal laws of a jurisdiction.
Perjury The intentional making of a false statement as part of the sworn testimony of a witness.
Plea In criminal proceedings, the defendant's formal answer in court to the charge against them, generally guilty, not guilty or does not contest the charge.
Pre-trial Conference A meeting between the judge and attorneys to discuss which matters should be presented to the jury, review evidence and witnesses, to set a timetable and to discuss settlement of the case.
Sentence The penalty imposed by a court upon a person convicted of a crime.
Simultaneous Interpretation Interpretation which requires that the interpreter speak contemporaneously with the speaker whose statements are being heard.
Subpoena A written order issued by a judicial officer requiring an identified person to appear in a designated court to testify in a case under the jurisdiction of that court.
Testimony Oral evidence offered by a sworn witness on the stand during a criminal trial.
Venue The particular geographic area in which a court may hear or try a case.
Verdict In criminal proceedings, the decision of the jury or judicial officer.
Warrant A document issued by a judicial officer which directs law enforcement to perform a specified act.