Your Criminal Defense Dictionary

You may think of yourself as a criminal defense expert thanks to Law and Order, but there’s much more you need to know beyond what Hollywood finds entertaining. A criminal accusation can be overwhelming and could have long-term effects on your education or career. Your Brevard County criminal defense attorneys at Yardley Law are experienced in defending those accused of crimes at both the State and Federal levels. While this process can be difficult, we’re here to help. To start, here’s a list of terms you’ll most likely come across throughout the criminal defense process:

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.

Appeal: A request made after a trial by a party that has lost on one of more issues that a higher court review that 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” and the other party is the “appellee.”

Burden of Proof: The duty to prove disputed facts. In criminal cases, the government has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt.

Capital Offense: A crime punishable by death.

Deposition: 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.

Due Process: The constitutional guarantee that a defendant will receive a fair and impartial trial.

Felony: A serious crime, usually punishable by at least one year in prison.

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.

Injunction: A court order preventing one or more named parties from taking some action. A preliminary injunction often is issued to allow fact-finding, so a judge can determine whether a permanent injunction is justified.

Misdemeanor: An offense punishable by one year of imprisonment or less.

Plea: The defendant’s statement pleading “guilty” or “not guilty” in answer to the charges.

Probation: Sentencing option in the federal courts. With probation instead of sending an individual to prison, the court releases the person to the community and orders him or her to complete a period of supervision monitored by a U.S. probation officer and to abide by certain conditions.

Precedent: A court decision in an earlier case with facts and legal issues similar to a dispute currently before a court.

Petty Offense: A federal misdemeanor punishable by six months or less in prison.

Subpoena: A command, issued under a court’s authority, to a witness to appear and give testimony.

Tort: A civil, not criminal, wrong. A negligent or intentional injury against a person or property, with the exception of breach of contract.

Warrant: Court authorization, most often for law enforcement officers, to conduct a search of make an arrest.

Obtaining representation as early as possible will ensure the best outcome of your criminal accusation. For a team that has the experience and knowledge to make your criminal defense process as smooth and fair as possible, contact our offices to schedule a consultation.


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