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Criminal Glossary
NameDescription
Index of DefendantsYou can search for defendants in criminal cases by name.
Criminal Calendar SearchYou can search for defendants in criminal cases by name.
Criminal Case SummaryYou can get a summary of your case. All you need is your case number.
Agency Criminal Record AccessThis is to be used by government agencies only for official requests of court criminal records. Requests submitted through this portal by individuals or non-government agencies will not be fulfilled.
AccusedA person charged with a crime.
AllegationA statement or claim that is made and has not been proved to be true or false.
Alternative SentencingAllows a defendant to serve a sentence outside of jail or complete alternative programs in lieu of jail time.
AppealA request made to a higher court to review a decision or ruling by a lower court.
Arraignment HearingCourt appearance where a person that is accused of committing a crime is told about the charges and asked to plead "guilty" or "not guilty."
Bench TrialA trial held without a jury in which the judge decides the case.
Bench WarrantA judge's order to arrest and bring a person to court because the person has failed to appear in court at a specified date and time.
Civil AssessmentAn additional fee charged by the court if a certain fine for traffic and criminal violations is not paid on time. Section 1214.1 (a) of the Penal Code states, "In addition to any other penalty in infractions, misdemeanor, or felony cases, the Court may impose a civil assessment of up to three hundred dollars ($300) against any defendant who fails, after notice and without good cause, to appear in Court for any proceeding authorized by law or who fails to pay all or any portion of a fine ordered by the Court."
CitationA ticket issued at the scene of an incident by a law enforcement officer requiring payment of a fine or an appearance in court within a certain amount of time to answer for the offense.
Court TrialA trial held without a jury in which the judge decides the case.
Criminal OffenseAn act that violates the law.
DefendantThe person accused of the crime.
DefenseThe reasons why a defendant should not be convicted of the charge(s).
DiscoveryInformation gathered as part of the pre-trial process where each party asks for relevant information and documents from the other side in an attempt to "discover" pertinent facts.
DispositionThe final decision made by the court.
District AttorneyAn elected or appointed public official of a county or a designated district with the responsibility to investigate alleged crimes in cooperation with law enforcement, file criminal charges, and prosecute crimes.
Domestic ViolenceA pattern of behavior in which one intimate partner uses physical, sexual, and emotional attacks against the other partner in a relationship. Violence, coercion, threats, intimidation and isolation may be used to control the abused partner.
EvidenceAny proof legally presented at trial through witnesses, records, and/or exhibits.
ExpungeTo strike out or erase.
ExpungementThe process in which a conviction or plea of (Guilty or No Contest) in a criminal action is set aside and the case is dismissed.
ExtraditionThe surrender by one state or country of a person charged with a crime in another state or country.
Failure to AppearNot appearing before the judge in the time given on a citation.
FelonyA serious crime that can be punished by more than one year in prison or by death.
FineA sum of money required to be paid as a penalty for an offense. The base bail/fine for a violation is determined by statute, legislation or by court order. The court may impose a separate bail/fine for each separate violation.
ForfeitTo lose property or rights involuntarily as a penalty for violation of law.
Grand JuryA group of citizens that listen to the prosecutor's evidence of criminal allegations and decide whether there is probable cause to believe a person committed a crime and to charge them with that crime.
GuiltyThe defendant admits that he or she committed the crime and is in effect, convicted.
Habeas CorpusLatin for "you have the body," it is a writ (court order) which orders the release of someone who has been unlawfully imprisoned.
Held OverA judge's decision before a trial that says there is enough evidence for a trial.
Held to AnswerA judge's decision at the end of a preliminary hearing in a trial court saying there is enough evidence against the defendant to have a trial.
IndictmentThe formal charge issued by a grand jury saying there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to justify having a trial. Used primarily for felonies.
InfractionA crime that can be punished by a fine, traffic school, or some form of community service but not by time in jail or prison.
Judicial OfficerJudges, referees, and commissioners that make court decisions as a judge.
JurisdictionPersons over which lawful authority may be exercised by a court.
Local FormsForms created to standardize the preparation of documents in a specific court. Local forms usually can only be used in the court that created the form. They are different from Judicial Council forms that can be used in every Superior Court in California.
MinorAny person under the age of 18 years old.
MisdemeanorA crime that can be punished by jail time of up to one year, but not by time in state prison. Punishment can also include fines.
No ContestThe defendant does not contest the charge. This plea has the same effect as a guilty plea, except that the subsequent conviction cannot be used against the defendant as evidence of liability in a civil suit. Also known as "Nolo Contendere".
Not GuiltyThe defendant states that he or she did not commit the crime.
Own RecognizanceA judge allows a criminal defendant to be released from custody without posting bail. The defendant must sign a promise to show up in court.
Penalty AssessmentAn additional fee which is required by law to be added to all fines.
Petty TheftThe unlawful taking of another's property when that property is valued at $950 or less. Shoplifting is usually charged as petty theft.
ProsecutorThe government's attorney in a criminal case.
PleaAnswer to charges.
Probable CauseSufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with a crime. Probable cause must exist for a law enforcement officer to make an arrest without a warrant, search without a warrant, or seize property in the belief the items were evidence of a crime.
ProbationA sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases a convicted defendant under supervision of a probation officer that makes certain that the defendant follows certain rules, for example, gets a job, gets drug counseling.
ProceedingsThe process of conducting judicial business before a court or other judicial officer.
Proposition 47 (Criminal)Information on Filing Your Petition and Application for Reduction in Penalties (Proposition 47)
Public DefenderA lawyer appointed by the court, usually to represent a defendant in a criminal case that cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
RemandA prisoner or accused person is sent into custody to await trial or continuation of a trial.
RestitutionThe act of restoring or giving the equivalent value to compensate for an injury, damage, or loss.
RulingA court decision on a case or any legal question.
Search WarrantA written order by a judge that permits a law enforcement officer to search a particular premises and/or person for certain types of evidence, based on a declaration by a law enforcement official, including a district attorney.
Superior CourtThe trial court in each county of the State of California. This court hears all adoption, family law, juvenile, criminal, civil, small claims, and probate cases.
TestimonyEvidence presented orally by witnesses during trials, before grand juries, or during administrative proceedings.
Time WaiverThe defendant agrees to give up and waive the right to a speedy trial and consents to have the case brought to trial beyond the applicable time period.
VandalismWillful or malicious destruction of public or private property. Graffiti is considered vandalism.
ViolationA breaking of the law.
Waive TimeAgree to give up right to a trial within the time limit specified.
WarrantAn order (writ) of a court which directs a law enforcement officer (usually a sheriff) to arrest and bring a person before the judge, such as a person who is charged with a crime, convicted of a crime but failed to appear for sentencing, owes a fine or is in contempt of court.
WitnessA person who has seen or can give first-hand evidence of an event.
Art Showcased in
Los Angeles Courthouse Jury Rooms
Artwork
"My Main Squeeze" by Andrea Mendoza
2010 – 3rd Place Teen

National Arts Program - Logo

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