Criminal Defense Legal Terminology

In order to understand the legal maze when facing criminal charges, it is important you understand the meaning of the terms you will encounter while going through the process.

These definitions are a general overview. Your lawyer, like a Rockville criminal defense lawyer lawyer, will clarify any questions you will undoubtedly have concerning your case.

  • Accessory — Someone who purposely assists another person commit a felony. This person is not necessarily at the scene of the crime. An example of an accessory is someone giving opinions or ideas before the crime or helping to hide evidence or the person who commits the crime.
    1. Accomplice –This person is usually with the perpetrator at the time of the crime, helping the person commit the crime. An accomplice can be found guilty of the same crime and most likely will receive the same penalty as the perpetrator.
    2. Accused — A person that has not been tried but has been accused of a crime.
    3. Alibi – An alternative explanation of where the defendant was when the crime was committed. If the alibi can be validated, it can prove it was not possible for them to commit the crime.
    4. Acquittal —  A decision made to the judge or jury that states the accused is not guilty of the charge for which they were being tried.
  • Entrapment — A government agency influences the actions of an individual to commit a crime they may or may not have committed without the agency’s actions. In most states, someone can use an entrapment defense successfully if they have shown no prior behavior or intent to commit the crime in question.
    1. Aggravated Assault — Purposely or knowingly causing serious bodily injury to someone else, or attempting to hurt someone with a deadly weapon.
    2. Jury Nullification — This happens when a jury agrees that the defendant did commit the crime in question, but they do not want to convict the defendant because they feel the laws are unjust or wrong. This option is available to all juries but the defense attorneys were discouraged from persuading juries to come back with this decision. Instances where jury nullification has come into play occurs where the defendant is facing a mandatory life sentence because of the Three-Strike laws for what may be considered a minor offense.
  • Concurrent Sentence — A person is serving time at the same time for conviction of more than one crime.
  • Declaration under Penalty of Perjury  A signed statement that the signer swears to be true that if found to be untrue, the signer can be found guilty of perjury.
  • Discovery — Gathering information and facts relevant to the case that help prepare the party for the upcoming trial.
  • Grand Jury — A group of people assembled to hear and review evidence of a case to see if there is enough information to take the case to trial. The grand jury can accuse but cannot try cases.
  • Immunity — In exchange for providing the court with criminal evidence about the case, the court grants the provider of the information will not be persecuted.

These are just a few of the terms you will come across during criminal proceedings. Your attorney will explain any items that need clarification so you fully understand the court proceedings.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into guardianship.

Posted in Uncategorized