How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

Criminal Justice

STUDY
PLAY
Appeal
Generally, the request that a court with appellate jurisdiction review the judgment, decision, or order of a lower court and set it aside or modify it.
Appellate jurisdiction
The lawful authority of a court to review a decision made by a lower court
Bailiff
The court officer whose duties are to keep order in the courtroom and to maintain physical custody of the jury
Change of venue
The movement of a trial or lawsuit from one jurisdiction to another or from one location to another within the same jurisdiction. May be done in a criminal case to ensure the defendant receives a fair trial.
Community court
A low level court that focuses on quality-of-life crimes that erode a neighborhood's morale. Community courts emphasize problem solving rather than punishment and build on restorative principles like community service and restitutio
Court of last resort
The court authorized by law to hear the final appeal on a matter
Courtroom working group
The professional courtroom actors, including judges, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, public defenders, and others who earn a living serving the court
Defense counsel
A licensed trial lawyer hired or appointed to conduct the legal defense of a person accused of a crime and to represent him or her before a court of law
Dispute-resolution center-
An informal hearing place designed to mediate interpersonal disputes without resorting to the more formal arrangements of a criminal trial court.
Exculpatory evidence
Any information having a tendency to clear a person of guilt or blame
Expert witness
A person who has special knowledge and skills recognized by the court as relevant to the determination of guilt or innocence. Unlike lay witnesses, expert witnesses may express opinions or draw conclusions in their testimony
Federal court system
The three-tiered structure of federal courts, comprising US district courts, US courts of appeal, and the US Supreme Court
Judge
An elected or appointed public official who presides over a court of law and who is authorized to hear and sometimes to decide cases and to conduct trials
Judicial review
The power of a court to review actions and decisions made by other agencies of government
Jurisdiction
The territory, subject matter, or people over which a court or other justice agency may exercise lawful authority, as determined by statute or constitution
Juror
A member of a trial or grand jury who has been selected for jury duty and is required to serve as an arbiter of the facts in a court of law. Jurors are expected to render verdicts of "guilty" or "not guilty" as to the charges brought against the accused.
Lay witness
An eyewitness, character witness, or other person called on to testify who is not considered an expert. Lay witnesses must testify to facts only and may not draw conclusions or express opinions
Original jurisdiction
The lawful authority of a court to hear or to act on a case from its beginning and to pass judgment on the law and the facts.
Prosecutor
An attorney whose official duty is to conduct criminal proceedings on behalf of the state or the people against those accused of having committed criminal offenses
Prosecutorial discretion
The decision-making power of prosecutors, based on the wide range of choices available to them, in the handling of criminal defendants, the scheduling of cases for trial, the acceptance of negotiated pleas, and so on.
Public defender
An attorney employed by a government agency or sub-agency, or by a private organization under contract to a government body, fr the purpose of providing defense services to indigents, or an attorney who has volunteered such service
State court administrator
A coordinator who assists with case-flow management, operating funds, budgeting and court docket administration
State court system
A state judicial structure. Most states have at least three court levels: trial courts, appellate courts, and a state supreme court.
Subpoena
A written order issued by a judicial officer or grand jury requiring an individual to appear in court and to give testimony or to bring material to be used as evidence.
Trial de novo
Literally, "new trial". The term is applied to cases that are retried on appeal, as opposed to those that are simply reviewed on the record.
Victim-assistance program
An organized program that offers services to victims of crime in the areas of crisis intervention and follow-up counselling and that helps victims secure their rights under the law
Lower courts
trial courts of limited or special jurisdiction
Trial courts
are trial courts of general jurisdiction
Keeney v. Tamayo-Reyes
The US Supreme Court ruled that a federal evidentiary hearing will only occur if the defendant can demonstrate some reason for not developing those facts at the state level or if he or she can show a fundamental miscarriage of justice from failure to hold such a hearing
US District Courts
Lowest level of the federal court system
made up of 94 district courts
Considered the trial courts of the federal system
US Courts of Appeal
The intermediate appellate courts
Made up of 13 circuit courts (US Court of Appeals for federal and 12 regional)
Has mandatory jurisdiction over the decisions of district courts within their circuit
US Supreme Court
power of judicial review
Marbury v. Madison
Establishes Court's authority as the final interpreter of the US Constitution