In civil law, the party who brings a suit or some other legal action against another (the defendant) in court.
In a civil suit, the person against whom the plaintiff brings a court action; in a criminal case, the person charged with the crime.
A person who prepares and conducts the prosecution of persons accused of crime. It is usually a public official but in some instances involving minor offenses, it may be a private attorney.
A jury of 12 persons who decide upon the facts at issue in a trial. In a criminal trial, a body of individuals selected to determine a verdict using the evidence.
Group that hears charges against a suspect and decides whether there is sufficient evidence to bring the person to trial.
Standard Burdens of Proof
This includes, "beyond a reasonable doubt" in criminal and in civil law, "preponderance of the evidence."
"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"
In a criminal trial, jurors are told to find the defendant guilty if they are convinced of their guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt".
This refers to the degree of legal certainty required for a juror to find a criminal defendant guilty. Reasonable doubt refers to failure to meet the required degree of certainty in criminal cases. These words are used in instructions to juries to indicate that innocence is to be presumed unless the guilt is very clear.
Preponderance of Evidence
General standard of proof in civil cases. To win, the evidence of one party must be more convincing than the other side's evidence.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A court order to require that an individual accused of a crime to appear in court to determine whether he or she has been legally detained
A legal document that orders a person appears and/or produces documents or other requested materials for a trial.
The process in which a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser crime than the one with which the defendant was originally charged.
The act of lying under oath.
A class of criminal offenses consisting of those offenses less serious than felonies and are sanctioned by less severe penalties.
A term used to distinguish certain high crimes from minor offenses known as misdemeanors; these crimes can be defined by statue or as crimes by common law.
Part of the Fifth Amendment that says that no person can be put in jeopardy of life or limb twice; once a person has been tried for a crime, he or she cannot be tried again for the same crime.
Presumption of Innocence
In criminal law, the principle that a person is innocent of a crime until he is proven guilty. Its primary manifestation is the constitutional requirement that the prosecutor establishes the defendant's guilt by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
A court order signed by a judge describing a specific place to be searched for specific items.
A sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed. It is required to obtain a search warrant.
The rule pronounced in Miranda v Arizona, that confessions are inadmissible in a criminal prosecution if the police do not advise the suspect in custody of certain rights before questioning.
Evidence gained as the result of an illegal search by police cannot be used in a criminal case against the person from whom it was seized.