Criminal Defense Law Dictionary
Abstract of Judgment
A certification from the U.S. District Court clerk that a judgment of restitution was entered against the defendant owing to the victim. If the defendant inherits, owns, or sells real property or holdings, these assets can then be attached at the state and local levels as well.
One who incites, aids, or abets a lawbreaker in the commission of a crime but is not present at the time of the crime. Also called accessory before the fact. One who aids a criminal after the commission of a crime, but was not present at the time of the crime. Also called accessory after the fact.
A legal finding that the criminal defendant has not been proven guilty of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
Includes all court proceedings, adjudication, and denial or enforcement by the court.
The considered decision or sensible conclusion of the court.
A formal, written, notarized, statement of facts, with a specific format that has been sworn to and signed by a deponent.
Solemnly declare that certain statements are true: confirm a lower court’s decision on appeal.
Ask the higher court to reverse the decision of a trial court after final judgment or other legal rulings.
Criminal proceeding where the defendant enters a plea.
An act which causes the victim to believe they are about to have physical harm. In Florida, assault a second-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 784 § 011(1) reads “intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”
Asset Forfeiture (or Attachment or Asset Seizure)
Confiscation of assets by the state. Typically applies to alleged proceeds or instruments of crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, AUSA
Prosecuting Attorney under the supervision of the Chief Federal Prosecutors (United States Attorneys)
An assurance, usually backed by money, that a defendant will come to court as required if released from jail before trial.
Being declared unable to pay one’s debts.
Another word used for bail in the criminal justice system.
A crime so serious that capital punishment is considered appropriate.
The penalty of death for the commission of a crime.
Any proceeding, action, cause, or lawsuit initiated through the court system by filing a complaint, petition, information, or indictment.
A formal, written accusation that a person violated a law.
The loss of ownership of property used to conduct illegal activity.
A lawyer who litigates relating to the rights of private individuals and legal proceedings concerning these rights as distinguished from criminal, military, or international regulations or proceedings.
Clerk of the Court
An officer of the court who is in charge of the court’s administrative work.
A formal accusation to the court that a person violated a law.
Concealed Weapon, CCW
A concealed weapon. Dangerous weapons so carried on the person as to be knowingly or willfully concealed from sight, This practice is forbidden by statute.
A postponement, for good cause, of a scheduled court event.
Prohibited or excluded by law or treaty; forbidden; as, contraband goods, or trade.
A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.
A lawyer that deals with crimes and their punishments.
The monetary compensation recovered in the courts by a person who has suffered a loss to his or her person, property, or rights through the unlawful act or negligence of another.
A person formally accused of violating a law.
A lawyer who legally represents the interests of a defendant.
Someone who testifies in writing: party making an affidavit.
An oral statement made by a person before an officer authorized by the court to administer oaths.
The dropping of a case by the judge without further consideration or hearing.
An offense involving disturbance of the public peace and decency.
A list of cases on the court’s calendar.
Drunk Driving, D.U.I., DWI
Driving under the influence (of drugs or alcohol).
The fraudulent appropriation of funds or property entrusted to your care but actually owned by someone else. Larceny denotes a taking, by fraud or stealth, from another’s possession; embezzlement denotes an appropriation, by fraud or stealth, of property already in the wrong doer’s possession.
A method of catching in a trap. To lure into performing a previously or otherwise un-contemplated illegal act.
The documentary or oral statements and the material objects admissible as testimony in a court of law.
The formal process of delivering an accused or convicted person from authorities in one state to authorities in another state.
A serious crime.
A serious crime committed with a weapon, especially a pistol or a rifle, capable of firing a projectile and using an explosive charge as a propellant.
Financial Litigation Unit
A division of the civil section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office responsible for the collection of fines and restitution.
Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.
A panel of citizens who hear evidence collected by the prosecutor or his or her agent and then decide whether the evidence is sufficient to believe that a defendant violated a certain law and that the defendant should be formally charged.
The decision of the court or jury in a criminal trial when the evidence shows “beyond a reasonable doubt” the defendant committed the crime.
A formal proceeding about agreed upon or determined legal issues.
The grand jury’s formal, written accusation stating the defendant should be tried. An indictment is also called a True Bill.
The prosecutor’s formal written accusation charging a particular crime.
The authority of a court to hear and decide a case.
A group of citizens sworn to listen to evidence and declare the truth; guilty, not guilty, liable, not liable.
The taking and carrying away of another’s personal property without the consent of the owner; theft.
The right to keep ownership of a property until a debt is paid.
A written application to the court requesting an order or a ruling in favor of the applicant.
No True Bill (Also Called a No Bill)
Dismissal of charges against a defendant when there is not enough evidence to go to trial.
The decision of the court or jury in a criminal trial when the evidence does not show “beyond a reasonable doubt” the defendant committed the crime.
A written direction of the court.
The defendant’s answer (guilty or not guilty) in response to an alleged charge.
An arrangement where the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. Also called a Plea Bargain.
Pre-Sentence Investigation Report
A formal, written report prepared by the Probation Department. It is always presented before the sentencing hearing. This report provides the judge with information about the defendant and the victim. The information includes the defendant’s background and the conviction. And it provides information about the emotional, financial, or physical impact the crime had on the victim.
An informal meeting between the prosecutor and the defense attorney to clarify issues and, where applicable, to attempt to work out a settlement before any further court filings and proceedings.
An informal discussion, before the trial, between the prosecutor or the defense attorney and witnesses to discuss their knowledge of the crime.
A reasonable ground for belief that the offender violated a specific law.
A period of supervision by the court and a probation officer that allows the defendant to live in a community.
Probation Officer, P.O.
An officer who ensures that the defendant obeys all conditions of probation.
A legal ruling by a higher court to send a case back to the lower court for further action.
The court-ordered payment of money by the defendant to the victim for damages caused by their criminal activities.
The length and conditions of punishment ordered by the court if the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty.
Statute of Limitations
The specified period during which a civil action or criminal charge can be made.
A written command for a person to appear at a certain place and time to give evidence in court about a crime or other legal matter. Also called a summons.
Another word for subpoena used by the criminal justice system.
To answer questions under oath in a legal proceeding.
Evidence or a formal written or spoken statement.
A court proceeding in which testimony is presented to a judge or jury to determine whether the defendant is guilty of committing a crime.
Another word for indictment.
The place where the trial will be held (normally in the district in which the offense was committed).
A person who has physically, financially, or emotionally suffered from the commission of a crime by another.
Victim Impact Statement
A written or spoken statement supplied by the victim or representative to the court before sentencing. It details the physical, emotional, and financial impact of the crime on that victim.
A person who provides information about the justice process to victims and witnesses of crime.
A nonviolent criminal act involving deceit, concealment, subterfuge, or other fraudulent activity.
A person who has knowledge of a crime and provides that information to law enforcement officials.