Miranda Rule -- Prohibits the introduction of any testimonial evidence elicited from criminal suspects while under arrest or in police custody unless police first advise them of their constitutional rights to remain silent, refuse to answer questions, and to be represented by an attorney before beginning any custodial interrogation. I have heard this term used frequently in television crime programs.
Prosecutor -- Is an attorney employed by the state whose responsibility it is to file criminal charges against individuals arrested by police and charge with crimes; typically, prosecutors represent the state at the criminal trial. The context in which I am most familiar with prosecutors is in their portrayal in television programs about criminal justice and news reports about criminal trials.
Pretrial Release Program -- Is a system of releasing criminal defendants from custody until their trials to reduce jail overcrowding; in principle, bond is one form of pretrial release. I have heard this term used in television crime documentaries about prison systems.
Bail Bond -- In many circumstances, individuals charged with crimes may qualify for release pending their scheduled trial; typically, judges assign a bail to guarantee that the person will show up for trial and the defendant must post that amount in cash which is forfeited in the event he does not appear for trial. I am most familiar with bail bonds in connection with television programs about crime and criminal justice.
Arraignment -- Is the formal process by which the state charges persons arrested by police with a specific criminal charge; at the arraignment, the defendant is advised of the precise nature of the criminal charges that the state intends to pursue at trail. I am most familiar with the arraignment process in connection with television programs about crime and criminal justice.
Nolo Contendere -- Is a Latin phrase that means "no contest"; it is a plea by which criminal defendants and civil defendants can agree not to fight criminal charges or legal claims without admitting guilt or responsibility for damages; one of its main purposes is to allow criminal defendants to plead guilty without necessarily admitting to conduct that would have detrimental effects afterwards or that might expose them to civil liability. Prior to taking this course, I had heard of the term "no contest" but I never knew what it meant.
Motion -- Before trials, both parties may seek specific information or to obtain judicial rulings limiting the use of various types of information or requiring specific witnesses to appear in court; motions may also be made during and after trials, such as in connection with requests to direct a verdict or vacate the verdict of a jury that is contrary to the law. Prior to taking this course, I had often heard the term in connection with news reports about legal issues but I never thought about what it meant.
Jury Panel -- Is a list of potential jurors from which jurors are selected for specific trials; generally, jury panels are composed of registered voters, licensed drivers, and others whose records are already readily accessible to the criminal justice system through public records. I had often heard the term in connection with news reports about legal issues but I never knew what it meant.
Challenge For Cause -- During the voire dire process, attorneys have the opportunity to select jurors through a process of interviewing them and to reject certain potential jurors; typically, they may have a certain number of peremptory challenges for which no reason need be given and they may also challenge jurors for specific reasons (i.e. "cause") such as because of evidence of bias. Prior to taking this course, I had often heard the term in connection with news reports about legal issues but I never thought about what it meant.
Direct Examination -- At trial, both parties have the right to elicit testimonial evidence from witnesses under oath; the process of questioning one's own witnesses is called direct examination and the process of questioning the other party's witnesses is called cross-examination. Prior to taking this course, I had often heard these terms in connection with television programs about law and news reports about legal issues but I never thought about what they meant or how they differed.
Jury Charge -- Before juries begin deliberations, the judge issues instructions explaining their responsibilities, choices, and standards they must apply; in that regard, jurors receive instructions about what options they have, what specific uses of evidence they may make, and what evidence they may not consider. Prior to taking this course, I had often heard the term in connection with news reports about legal issues but I never thought about what it meant and it confused me because I associated it with criminal charges.
Hung Jury -- A hung jury cannot reach a verdict after the maximum reasonable time ordered for them to continue deliberating; in that case, the judge declares a mistrial, the jury is discharged and the case may be retried in front of another jury at another time. My familiarity with this term was mainly in connection with news stories, television programs, and movies about legal matters.
Pre-Sentence Report -- Is part of an investigation conducted after a defendant is convicted; it is used to determine the most appropriate sentence based on the totality of the person's prior criminal history so that defendants who are first-time offenders are not treated as harshly as multiple repeat offenders and so-called "career criminals." I had never before heard this term prior to taking this course.
3 Strike Law -- In some states, judges have no choice but to sentence criminal defendants to harsh punishments such as life imprisonment after their third conviction of a felony offense. I was familiar with this term from news reports over controversies in connection with implementation of third-strike laws in cases where the third crime was relatively minor.
Deterrence -- Is a concept of preventing crime by imposing penalties that are sufficient to cause potential criminals to make them consider the consequences first and avoid committing crimes. Prior to this course, I was familiar with the word but not in the context of criminal justice.
Protection of The Public -- Is one of the fundamental purposes of police authority, criminal law, and the practice of incarcerating criminals: to protect the public from them; it is also one of the principle justifications for the penal system based on the belief that criminals must be removed from society to protect others from their conduct. I was familiar with this term only in connection with the motto on the sides of police vehicles that say "To Protect and Serve the Public."
Rehabilitation -- Is the idea that part of the purpose of the criminal justice system and incarceration is to help criminals change their behavior and not necessarily to punish them or to separate them from society. I was familiar with this term in connection with news stories about prison reform.
Retribution -- Is the concept according to which convicted criminals deserve to be punished and that penal systems exist partly (or mainly) for that purpose rather than for the purpose of helping them change their behavior. I was familiar with this term before but not in connection with criminal justice.
Tort -- Is a class of conduct that includes most ways that people harm one another through their conduct without necessarily breaking any criminal laws. I had never heard this term before taking this course.
Writ of Trespass -- Is a procedural mechanism whereby the owner of property alleges a claim of specific damages against someone for trespassing on his property. I had never heard this term before taking this course.
Tortfeasor -- Is someone who commits a tort against another person. I had never heard this term before taking this course.
Battery -- A crime under penal law consisting of a physical attack and a form of tort for unprivileged touching that causes injury at civil law. The most common context in which I have heard of assault is in connection with news reports about criminal charges for assault and battery and civil suits for battery in cases of medical malpractice where patients never consented to surgery.
Doctrine of Transferred Intent -- Is a concept of tort law whereby a person who intends to harm another or who acts negligently toward another but actually harms someone else is held equally responsible for that harm even though he meant no harm to that person. I had never heard this term before taking this course.
Assault -- A crime under penal law and a form of tort consisting of a unprivileged touching at civil law; typically, criminal assault may involve physical contact or the attempt at harmful physical contact while civil assault requires only that the victim be genuinely placed in fear of an impending physical attack. The most common context in which I have heard of assault is in connection with news reports about criminal charges for assault…