A GLOSSARY OF COURTROOM TERMS

Courtroom language is different from the everyday terms most people are familiar with. Many of the legal terms are used in books, movies, and television, but what do they mean? The language of lawyers is often filled with Latin legal terms with which people are unfamiliar. Here are some of the most common courtroom terms,  so that when you watch the denture cream lawsuit proceedings on television, or hear Consumer Lawyers speak, you will have a better understand of what is going on:

Accused: A person who is charged with a crime; the defendant

Acquittal: To be found not-guilty of a crime; set free

Admissible: Facts or evidence which are allowed in the court record to help determine guilt or innocence

Appeal: Taking a case to a higher court for review in an effort to overturn a guilty verdict

Arraignment: The first court appearance following arrest; the defendant answers the charges with a “guilty” or “not guilty” plea

Bail: Financial commitment whereby the defendant is released from jail, but ensures he will return to court for trial

Capital offense: A crime punishable by the death penalty

Continuance: The postponement of legal proceedings in a courtroom until a later date

Convict: Find a defendant guilty of the criminal charges against him

Defendant: The person accused of a crime

Dismissal: Closing a court case without trial

Docket: The record of cases on a court’s calendar

Evidence: Facts and materials submitted to the court to determine the truth of the accusation against the defendant

Felony: A crime punished by confinement in prison or death

Guilty: To be found responsible for the crime of which one is accused

Jury: A group of twelve citizens who determine the verdict in a trial after hearing the evidence

Mistrial: Ending a trial before its conclusion due to a procedural error; no verdict is reached and the trial starts from the beginning again

Motion: A request made to the judge for a judgment, such as for a continuance or dismissal

Not guilty: To be found not responsible for the crime of which one is accused, by the judge or a jury, because the evidence does not prove guilt or because of insanity

Objection: A protest by one party in a legal case against an action of the other party on which the judge makes a ruling

Parole: Conditional release of a prisoner who has completed part of his sentence; if he is compliant with restrictions, the remainder of the sentence will be forgiven, if not, he will be returned to prison

Perjury: Giving false testimony under oath

Plaintiff: The person who brings a lawsuit against another person

Plea: Statement made in court by one accused of a crime with regard to guilt or innocence

Preponderance: The evidence which is most credible and convincing

Probation: Being free, rather than jailed, after conviction, subject to supervision by a parole officer

Reasonable doubt: Uncertainty, after hearing the evidence, with regard to the guilt of the accused

Sentence: The punishment given to the accused following a guilty verdict

Verdict: The determination of guilt or innocence by a judge or jury

Witness: One who testifies under oath in a trial about what he saw or heard

As you can see the law has a language of its own and litigants in all courts understand each other.  Whether it is a murder trial, poligrip lawsuit, malpractice lawsuit or a civil suit, you too can understand the language of the law. 

Published November 17, 2011 by