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    Glossary

    A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | V | W | Y

    A

    abscond

    to be intentionally absent or to conceal oneself illegally in order to avoid a legal process.

    accused

    formally charged but not yet tried for committing a crime; the person who has been charged may be called the accused.

    acquittal

    a judgement of a court, based on the decision of either a jury or a judge, that a person accused is not guilty of the crime for which he or she has been tried.

    adjournment

    the postponement of the hearing of a case until a future date

    adversarial

    a system in civil law where two sides argue their case

    affidavit

    a written statement of facts made on oath or affirmation, which may be used as evidence

    affirmation

    a declaration that the evidence to be given in court is the truth - made instead of taking a religious oath

    alleged

    said to be true, but not yet proven to be true; until the trial is over, the crime may be called "the alleged crime", for example.

    appeal

    a registered challenge to the court on an acquittal, conviction or sentence. An offender can appeal against a conviction or sentence whilst the DPP can appeal on the grounds of an acquittal or sentence

    arbitration

    dispute resolution before an arbitrator who makes a legally binding settlement between two parties, based on their evidence. The arbitrator is usually the person with technical expertise in the subject of the dispute

    arraigned

    being called by name by the clerk of courts, having the charge read and pleading either guilty or not guilty

    arrest

    to take a person suspected of committing a crime into legal custody for the purpose of charging him or her with committing a specific crime or for the purpose of beginning juvenile proceedings if the suspect is a juvenile.

    arrest warrant

    a document issued by a judicial officer which directs a law enforcement officer to arrest a person accused of committing a crime.

    assault

    an illegal and intentional physical attack or attempted or threatened attack by one person against another. Assaults are commonly divided in the law into aggravated assault, which is generally a physical attack, in which serious bodily injury is inflicted or there is a threat or attempt to inflict serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon, and simple assault, in which a threat, attempt, or actual attack is made without serious bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon.

    Attorney General

    the principal law officer of the Crown and has the right to terminate any criminal proceedings by entering a nolle prosequi.

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    B

    bail

    money or property promised or given to the court as security when an accused person is released before and during his or her trial with the agreement that the accused will return to court when ordered to do so or forfeit the bail.

    bailiff

    an officer of a court concerned with the service of the court's processes and the enforcement of its order, especially warrants of execution authorizing the seizure of the goods of a debtor.

    barrister

    a lawyer who argues cases in court

    beyond reasonable doubt

    the degree of proof needed for a jury or judge to convict an accused person of a crime.

    brief

    a document by which a solicitor instructs a barrister to appear as an advocate in court. It may also refer to documents provided by the Police Prosecution when the case is referred to the DPP.

    burglary

    the act of illegally entering or attempting to enter any building, ship, or inhabited vehicle as a trespasser with the intention of committing one of four specified crimes in it (theft, inflicting bodily harm, causing criminal damage and sexual assault) or entering it as a trespasser only but subsequently committing one or two specified crimes (burglary without intent: stealing or attempting to steal; inflicting or attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm)

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    C

    charge

    a formal accusation that a specific person has committed a specific crime, usually made by the police.

    civil law

    law concerned with matters between citizens in which the wronged party seeks action against another who caused hardship or inconvenience

    closed circuit television

    facility for providing evidence remotely - the complainant/witness does not have to go into the court room and they do not view the accused.

    committal

    proceedings to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to put a person on trial for an indictable offence

    committal papers

    provide the DPP with the information they need to commence prosecutions. They contain the police charges, as well as police and witness statements.

    common law

    law made through judgments made in court

    compensation

    paying money for the danger or hurt done

    complainant

    the person who makes a formal criminal complaint; also, the victim of the crime described in the complaint.

    conviction

    a judgement of the court, based either on the decision of a jury or a Judge or on the guilty plea of the accused, that the accused is guilty of the crime for which he or she has been tried.

    coroner

    a judicial officer who conducts inquests into deaths, which are not due to natural causes

    criminal law

    law dealing with offences such as burglary, assault, drug offences and murder which are considered to be offences against the community as a whole

    Crown prosecutor

    a DPP lawyer who is allocated to consider the police charges and is responsible for determining whether the charges should proceed through the District or Supreme Court. If the matter can proceed, the Crown Prosecution prepares an indictment and will manage the prosecution. If some cases a decision may be taken not to proceed

    cross examination

    the interrogation in court of one party's witness by the opposing party

    custody

    confinement in a police station or prison

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    D

    Defamation

    injury to another's reputation by making false statements

    defendant

    a person charged with an offence or about whom a civil complaint has been laid

    directions hearing

    a hearing with the judge, defence counsel, prosecutor and accused in attendance to raise and determine points of law, and obtain directions about the case

    dismissal

    a decision by a judicial officer to end a case for legal or other reasons.

    disposition

    the transfer of property by some act of its owner, e.g. by sale, gift, will, or exchange.

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    E

    evidence

    testimony and objects used to prove the statements made by the victim and the accused.

    examination-in-chief

    the questioning of a witness in court by the party who called him/her to give evidence, in order to put his/her evidence before the court

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    F

    fast-track

    A person charged with an indictable offence may decided to plead guilty at an early stage. The superior court will take into account the early plea of guilty and will usually discount the sentence that otherwise would have been imposed

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    G

    guilty

    a verdict of a judge or a jury that a person accused of committing a specific crime did commit it

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    H

    handup brief

    The handup brief contains the evidence handed up to the magistrate that the investigating officer relies on to support the charge served on a defendant who has been charged with an indictable offence

    homicide

    any killing of one person by another without justification or excuse.

    hung jury

    a jury whose members cannot agree whether the accused is guilty or innocent

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    I

    indecent assault

    touching or attempting to touch the genitals or other private body parts of another person without their consent.

    indictable offence

    a more serious crime, triable by a jury. Some indictable offences can be dealt with summarily (ie without a jury) at the election of the accused.

    indictment

    a document which contains the charge that is read out to the accused in court

    intensive youth supervision order

    a sentence for juveniles which can be made with or without detention and may involve going to a rehabilitation program or course, doing supervised unpaid community work, reporting in to the Juvenile Justice Division Officer

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    J

    judge

    the judicial officer who decides outcomes of cases in the intermediate and superior courts

    judiciary

    the systems of courts of justice and the personnel, such as judges, who are involved in making judgements

    jurisdiction

    the extent of authority to make judgements and administer justice

    jury

    a group of citizens who are selected by law and sworn to determine certain facts by listening to testimony in order to decide whether the accused is guilty or not. The jury in a trial is called a petit jury.

    juvenile

    a person accused of an offence who is too young at the time of the alleged offence to be subject to criminal court proceedings and is handled in the juvenile justice system. The upper age limit for juveniles in most states is the eighteenth birthday.

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    L

    litigation

    a lawsuit

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    M

    Magistrate

    a judicial official who makes judgements in the Local Court and the Court of Petty Sessions

    manslaughter

    Section 280 Criminal Code A person who unlawfully kills another under such circumstances as not to constitute wilful murder or murder is guilty of manslaughter.

    mediation

    a system using a neutral person to help two parties in a dispute to come to an agreement or settlement without going to court

    mention

    appearance in a Court of Petty Sessions before a magistrate by the accused to hear the charges read out

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    N

    nolle prosequi

    a procedure by which the Director of Public Prosecutions may terminate criminal proceedings

    not guilty

    a verdict by a judge or a jury that a person accused of a crime did not commit it or there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime.

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    O

    oath

    a sworn acknowledgement to speak the truth

    offence

    a crime; offences may be classified as indictable or summary and as arrestable or non-arrestable.

    offender

    an adult who has been convicted of a crime.

    order

    a command or direction by the court 9

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    P

    parole

    the conditional release of a convicted offender from a confinement facility before the end of his or her sentence with requirements for the offender's behaviour set and supervised by a parole agency.

    perjury

    deliberate false testimony under oath.

    personal undertaking (bail)

    an amount of money fixed by the court that the defendant promises to pay the Crown should he/she fail to appear at court on the required date

    pleas date

    date on which charges are read out to the accused and they are required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty

    precedence

    a prior decision which serves as an example or justification for later decisions

    preside

    to occupy the position of authority or control and to hear and determine the matter brought before the court

    prison

    a state or federal confinement facility for adult offenders.

    prosecutor

    an attorney for the community employed by a government agency to represent the interests of the general public, including crime victims, in court proceedings against people accused of committing crimes. Some jurisdictions use other terms for the prosecutor, such as US Attorney (a federal prosecutor), district attorney, or state's attorney.

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    Q

    Queen's Counsel

    a senior barrister who has been appointed to this position of distinction by the chief justice.

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    R

    rape

    sexual intercourse with a woman without consent as a result of physical force or threats, or because she was unconscious or asleep, or because consent as to the nature of the act was obtained through fraud. This term is not used in Western Australia but is in some other Australian States.

    release on bail

    the release of an accused person by a judicial officer before and during the trial for the accused upon the promise of the accused that he or she will return to court when ordered to do so.

    re-examination

    the examination of a witness for a second time by the party calling him/her, following the opposing party's cross-examination of that witness

    remand

    imprisonment while awaiting trial or further proceedings

    restitution

    putting back or repairing something

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    S

    sentence

    a penalty imposed by the court

    sexual assault

    broadly, any sexual act or attempted sexual act in which the victim is forced to participate by the threat or use of force; in the law, sexual assaults are usually distinguished according to the sex and age of the victim and the nature of the act. See rape and sodomy.

    status conference

    a hearing involving a judge, prosecutor, defence counsel and accused to discuss availability of witnesses, and case preparation in order to set a trial date

    summary/simple offence

    a minor criminal offence triable before a magistrate without a jury

    solicitor

    a lawyer who mainly advises clients, prepares cases and briefs barristers

    State Prosecutor

    a DPP lawyer who is allocated to consider the police charges and is responsible for determining whether the charges should proceed through the District or Supreme Court.

    statute

    a law passed by Parliament

    subpoena

    a writ issued by a court ordering a person, with penalty for noncompliance, to come before it and give evidence

    summons

    a document requiring a person to appear in court on a charge. It states the charge and the date and place of the court appearance

    surety

    guarantor - a third party required to promise to pay the Crown an amount fixed by the court to ensure the defendant's appearance at court on the required date

    suspect

    a person who is believed by criminal justice officials to be one who may have committed a specific crime but who has not been arrested or formally charged.

    suspended sentence

    a court decision to postpone the pronouncing of sentence on a convicted person or to postpone the execution of a sentence that has been pronounced by the court.

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    T

    trial

    an examination of issues of fact and law before a judge and sometimes a jury at which evidence is presented to determine whether or not an accused person is guilty of committing a specific crime.

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    V

    verdict

    the decision of the judge or jury at the end of a trial that the accused defendant is either guilty or not guilty of the crime for which he or she has been tried.

    victim impact statement

    a statement written by victims stating the impact of the crime on them. It can include financial, physical, emotional, psychological and other impacts on the person.

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    W

    witness

    a person who gives evidence in court

    Y

    youth community based order

    a sentence for juveniles which may involve going to a rehabilitation program or course, or doing supervised unpaid community work


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    Last updated: 29-January-2013

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