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the party that brings the charges against the accused


the individual or group accused of the crime


crimes that have serious consequences for the victim and criminal; such as murder, rape, arson, and robbery


offenses that aren't as serious and usually are punishable with a fine or jail sentence of lees than a year; such as vandalism and stealing


unlawful taking of another person's property with the intent never to return it


taking of property from a person's possession by using force or threats


unlawful entry into any dwelling or structure with the intention to commit a crime


when a civil case goes to court; legal action whereby a person or group sues to collect damages for some harm that is done


civil wrongs


the printing of false and damaging information

Constitutional law

applies to that branch of law dealing with the formation, construction, and interpretation of constitutions. They decide the limits of government's power and the rights of the individual.

Administrative law

the rules and regulations that the executive branch must make to carry out its job

Statutory law

a law written by a legislative branch of government. They regulate our behavior and are the source of many of the rights and benefits we take for granted

Writ of habeas corpus

requires an official of who has arrested someone to bring that person to court and explain why they are being held

Bills of attainder

a law that punishes a person accused of a crime without a trail or fair hearing in court

Ex post facto law

an law that would allow a person to be punished for an action that was not against the law when it was committed

Due process of law

government may not take our lives, liberty, or property except according to the proper exercise of law

Double jeopardy

a person who is tried for a crime and found not guilty may not be placed in put at risk of criminal penalty a second time by being retried for the same crime

Grand jury

group of 12 to 23 citizens that hears evidence presented by a prosecutor; decides whether there is enough evidence to indicate that the accused has committed a crime

Plea bargaining

a negotiation between the defense attorney and the prosecutor, who is the govern


hiring a lawyer


statement naming the plaintiff and defendant and describing the lawsuit


a document that announces that the defendant is being sued


reaction to the charges; will either admit to charges or offer reasons the defendant is not responsible for the injuries the plaintiff is making


the complaint and answer


opportunity to check facts and to gather evidence by questioning the other party and possible witness


parties agree on an amount of money that the defendant will pay the plaintiff


each side is given the opportunity to explain its side of the dispute and must listen to the other side; a mediator will help the two sides find a solution


a professional arbitrator who acts like a judge by reviewing the case and resolving the dispute


a formal charge by a grand jury


decision of the case

preponderance of the evidence

in a civil case the plaintiff has to present only enough to convince the judge or jury that the defendant was more likely than not was responsible for the incident that caused the damages/injuries


the party who starts the legal proceedings against another party for a violation of the law


an act that breaks a federal or state law and causes harm to people or society

penal code

a state's written criminal laws and punishments to go with each

victimless crimes

no one individual has been harmed and often no direct punishment is enacted


a board decides whether or not to grant a prisoner an early release from prison

mandatory sentencing

judges must impose whatever sentence the law directs


a hearing in which a suspect is charged and pleads guilty or not guilty


police officers do this if they have witnessed a crime, a complaint has been filed, or a judge has made an arrest warrant; a person is charged with a crime

Miranda Rights

suspects can refuse to answer police questions and can have a lawyer during questioning

no contest

the person doesn't admit to guilt but will not fight the prosecutions case; effect is the same as guilty plea


the answers witness give while under oath


to question a witness at a trial or a hearing to check or discredit the testimony


a vote of not guilty, after which the defendant is immediately released

Hung jury

a jury that cannot agree on a verdict

beyond a reasonable doubt

the criminal trials must prove completely that the suspect did the crime

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