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Frequently Asked Questions

'Legal Definitions' Terms

A simple guide to words used at the police station interview or at Court. The terms used below are for guidance and assistance only and are no substitute for individual case advice.

  1. ABH - means actual bodily harm caused by an assault.
  2. Abuse of process - means the defence complaint that a prosecution is unfair.
  3. Accused - means a person who is suspected of committing a crime.
  4. Actus reus - means (in Latin) the act complained of by the prosecution who have prove that the defendant committed to offence (and the intention to commit the offence see mean rea).
  5. Adjournment - means putting the case off for a good reason acceptable to the Court
  6. Admissible evidence - means evidence that the Court is allowed to consider in reaching a verdict (verdict). Evidence that is relevant.
  7. Adult - means person of 18 years or more.
  8. Aid and abet - means help someone to commit an offence.
  9. Alibi - means evidence that a person was somewhere other than at the scene of a crime (which much must be served in advance of trial)
  10. Appeal - from Magistrates Court - means a rehearing in the Crown Court of the facts .or review of the sentence or both
  11. Appeal - from Crown Court on facts - means an appeal against conviction if there is fresh evidence or on points of Law
  12. Appeal - from Crown Court on Sentence - means an appeal to the Court of Appeal if the sentence is manifestly excessive.
  13. Appropriate Adult - means a person including Social services who attends a Police Station when a youth or vulnerable person is to be interviewed under caution.
  14. Arrested - means being detained to answer question by the police or other Government Agency.
  15. Attempt - means trying to commit an offence even if not carried out to completion.
  16. Bad Character - means evidence of the defendant´s bad character (usually previous convictions) which is only relevant if shows a l ikelihood or propensity to have committed the charge before the Court.
  17. Bail from police station - this means either, required to return to the police station S 47(3), charged with offence(s) and released to go to Court.
  18. Bail Conditions - means the obligation to live at an address, to report to a police station or not to approach a prosecution witness to name the most common conditions only.
  19. Barrister - a lawyer who specialises in cases before the Higher Courts usually who is instructed by a solicitor and who prosecute or defend cases.
  20. Basis of plea - means the terms or facts accepted by the defendant as to what he has done wrong agreed by the Court and the prosecution lawyers.
  21. Burden of proof - means the standard to which the prosecution have to prove their case .which is beyond reasonable doubt meaning so that the jury is sure of the defendant´s guilt.
  22. Caution means an interview on tape where the right of silence exists but what is said can be used as evidence in Court. (see silence).
  23. Charged - charges - means that specific offences have been put and the next step is a Court appearance.
  24. Co accused - means a person who is also accused.
  25. Co-defendant - means a person who is jointly charged with offence.
  26. Committal - means sending the case to the Crown Court for trial by Jury.
  27. Community Penalty - means are order to do work or be subject to conditions in the community.
  28. Common Assault - means an assault by beating with no serious injury.
  29. Commons Law - means the law that are made by precedent (see precedent).
  30. Compensation - means damages for wrongful arrest or imprisonment or for malicious prosecution.
  31. Conditional Bail - means released to go to Court with conditions as to where the defendant lives
  32. Conditional Discharge - a sentence to abide by behaviour conditions for a set period of time.
  33. Confession - means an admission of guilt verbally or in writing - (see caution).
  34. Confiscation - means the procedure to take property from the defendant
  35. Conspiracy - means an agreement to commit an offence. (see services)
  36. Copyright - means property rights in music, films, DVDs, computer programmes and software which are criminally enforced usually by trading standards departments.
  37. Court - means the place where the cases is being heard by Magistrates, Crown Court with Judge - Jury etc.
  38. Court of Appeal - means the Court in London that hears appeals against sentence or conviction.(see appeal)
  39. CPS - means Crown Prosecution service who are the lawyer who bring a criminal case to Court.
  40. Criminal Conduct - means any conduct which breaks the criminal law.
  41. Criminal Property - means property that arises from criminal conduct.
  42. Deception - means lying to gain for self or other.
  43. Defendant - means the person charged with offence(s).
  44. Defence Burden of Proof - means the standard of proof to which to defence may have to prove an issue - this is only on the ´balance of probabilities.
  45. Defence Case Statement - means a written statement by a defendant that explains the defence case and seeks disclosure of documents from the prosecution.
  46. Defence Cost Order - means an order to contribute to defence costs.
  47. Detained person - means a person held at a police station for interview.
  48. Disclosure - means show evidence about which questions are going to be asked in a tape recorded interview.
  49. Dismissed - means usually that the Court has ordered that the case should not continue because of lack of evidence or because of delay on the part of the prosecution.
  50. Duress - means the defence that an offence was committed under threat to life to self or family
  51. DWP - means Department of Works and Pensions who prosecute cases of working whilst claiming benefit or challenges to DLA claims or other benefits.
  52. Evidence - means statements, witnesses, photographs, fingerprints etc - which are admissible. before a Court - only a Defence lawyer will be able to advise you on this.
  53. Expectation - means the principle that if a person is promised that a case will not be prosecuted, the same case cannot be brought.
  54. Expert - means a witness who gives opinion evidence which is admissible to the Court.
  55. False Accounting - means creating a document,business, computer record that is false for self or another and with a view to gain
  56. Fine - means an order of the Court to pay a sum of money to the Court as a punishment.
  57. Fit to plead - means being mentally (sometimes physically) able to plead guilty or not guilty determined by a doctor (qualified to assess the medical condition).
  58. Fit to stand trial - means being mentally (sometimes physically) able to plead take part in the trial process determined by a doctor (qualified to assess the medical condition).
  59. Forfeiture - means a Court order that goods or money are taken by the Government.
  60. Forensic Evidence - expert evidence, computer, accountancy handwriting
  61. Form B - a statement of means for ´legal aid´ in the Crown Court
  62. GBH - means grievous bodily harm and usually involves broken bones or other serious injury caused assault.
  63. Goodyear - means where the defendant asks the Court for an indication of sentence before pleading guilty - available in certain circumstances only.
  64. Guilty - means the defendant has pleaded or been found by the Court to be guilty and is to be sentenced.
  65. Habeus Corpus - means (in Latin) bring me the body if not charged with an offence and is the basis upon which the right to bail exists ultimately.
  66. Hearing - means court appearance usual other trial hearing.
  67. Homicide - means murder or manslaughter
  68. HMCE - means ´Her Majesty´s Customs and Excises who collect some taxes for the Government.
  69. HM Revenue and Customs - means the Government department that bring criminal cases to court for offences involving Government tax or money.
  70. Inadmissible - means evidence that the Court cannot take into account to reach a verdict.
  71. In Chambers - means where the Court sits in the Judges room to hear anapplication.
  72. In Custody - means sent by the court to await trial or hearing in prison or custody.
  73. Indictment - means the list of offences in Crown Court Cases.
  74. Insanity - means not capable of forming the intention to commit a crime determined by two specially qualified doctors. Can be temporary
  75. Instructions - means the defendants´ orders to his legal representative.
  76. Interview - means a process of being asked question usually by police to ascertain evidence.
  77. Interview - under caution (see ´Caution´).
  78. Judicial Review - means an application to a High Court judge about how a Court, Tribunal or Government Department has applied the law in a particular case.
  79. Judge - decides the cases on law and advises the jury on the evidence in the Crown Court.
  80. Judge - District judge - decides law and facts in the Magistrates and Youth Court.
  81. Judge in Chambers - means an application to review bail decision of a Magistrates Court.
  82. Junior Counsel - means a barrister who is not Queens Counsel.
  83. Jury - means twelve members of the public who decide facts in Crown Court Cases.
  84. Justice - means the correct and fair application of the law.
  85. Kidnap and false imprisonment - means detaining a person against their will.
  86. Law - means the power under which all citizens are regulated by precedent or statute (see precedent or statute)
  87. Legal - means that which related to the law.
  88. Life style Offences - means serious criminal offences that mean that the Court will, if guilt is found investigate the finances of the defendant with a view to confiscating property which cannot be accounted for.
  89. Life Imprisonment - means a sentence for life and can be subject to parole or judges minimum recommendation.
  90. Magistrate - means a lay judge in the Magistrates and Youth Court.
  91. Majority Verdict - means the decision of a Jury which is not unanimous.(see verdict).
  92. Malicious prosecution - means a civil action for damages which a case is prosecuted or investigated for a reason other than the interests of justice.
  93. Mens rea - means (in Latin) the intention to commit a crime a key element that the prosecution have to prove.
  94. Mitigation - means the explanation given to the Court for committing the offence which invites the Court to give a lighter sentence.
  95. Murder - an unlawful killing intentionally.
  96. Negligence - means an act where there is a lack or care where there is a duty of care.
  97. Newton Hearing - means a hearing where the defendant does not challenge that he is guilty and the issue is what the defendant actual did do which is less than that which the Prosecution are saying to the Court.
  98. Not guilty - means a plea of not guilty to the Court or the Court or Jury has decided the defendant is not guilty and did not commit the offence.
  99. Oath - means a sworn statement which if false would be the offence of Perjury.
  100. Offences - the specific allegations against the defendant on the charge sheet or the Indictment (in Crown Court) (see MJP services)
  101. PACE - means and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which governs the Law at Police Stations and laws of evidence
  102. Perjury - mean means a false statement which is on oath and is a serious criminal offence (see Oath).
  103. PII - means public interest immunity where the prosecution ask the court sitting in chambers for an order that they do not have to disclose material which discloses their methods of investigation or for other national interest reasons.
  104. Plea - the statement by the defendant to the Court as to whether guilty or not guilty.
  105. Precedent - means the line of previous cases which are similar and binding in interpreting how to understand the law and how it is applied.
  106. Pre sentence reports - mean reports prepared by the probation service which tells the court about the offence and the offender and suggests sentences for the Court to impose.
  107. Prosecution - means the lawyer or department bringing a criminal case.
  108. Prosecution Costs - means an order for a defendant to contribute to defence costs.
  109. PSU - means professional standards unit of the police who bring cases against police officers
  110. QC - Queen´s Counsel - a senior barrister who can advise the Crown.
  111. Queen´s Evidence - means where defendant becomes a witness of the prosecution and gives evidence against other defendant´s in the case.
  112. ´R v Defendant´ R means the Crown or the Queen.
  113. Relevant evidence - means evidence that is admissible because it is relevant to the case - irrelevant evidence not admissible evidence.
  114. Remand - means a case that is adjourned and the defendant is remanded on bail or in custody.
  115. Representation Order means an order for legal representation which was called ´Legal Aid´.
  116. Reporting Condition - means a condition of Bail that a defendant reports to a police station.
  117. Residence Condition - means a condition of bail a defendant lives at a certain address.
  118. Restraint order - means an order of the Court not to deal with or dispose of property or assets.
  119. Search Warrant - means an order from a Magistrate that premises can be searched for evidence of a specified suspected crime.
  120. Section 9 statement - means a statement for Court made under risk of prosecution if deliberately not true.
  121. Section 18 search - means search of a detained persons home or property whilst under arrest.
  122. Self defence - means the defence of protecting self or family in a case of prosecution for assault
  123. Sentence - is the punishment for a crime ranging from absolute discharge to jail or imprisonment.
  124. Silence - right of - the defendant has the right not to answer questions in interview but if silent and the case goes to Court then Court can take into account that silence was exercised in coming to its decision as to guilt.
  125. Solicitor - means a lawyer who is an officer of the Supreme Court and who has passed all the relevant examinations and completed successfully two years training.
  126. Statute - means the laws that are set by Act of Parliament and which the Courts have to interpret and follow.
  127. Surety - someone who promises to pay money to the Court if the defendant does not show up.
  128. Surrender - means to submit to the custody of the Court or police.
  129. Summons - means a Court order for a person accused or witness to attend or produce documents to the Court.
  130. Sworn evidence - means evidence given on oath to the Court
  131. Tax Evasion - means unlawfully not declaring income or deliberately misstating income or falsifying expenses.
  132. Theft - means the taking of property of another with dishonest intent to keep it.
  133. Trademark - means the logo or labels of an owner.
  134. Transfer - means sending the case to the Crown Court.
  135. Trial - the hearing which decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. In the Crown Court before a Jury, in the Magistrates Youth Court before Magistrates or District Judges
  136. Unconditional Bail - means released to go to Court without conditions as to where the defendant lives.
  137. Unfair Evidence - means evidence that is inadmissible because it is found to be unfair under Section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  138. Unused Material - means evidence and documents that have been seen in the investigation but which are not being used in evidence.
  139. UTMV - means the offence of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.
  140. Verdict - the result of a criminal case as to whether ´guilty or not guilty´
  141. VHCC means legal aid for long and expensive cases which work under contract to Legal Services Commission. MJP solicitors are authorised to conduct this type of case.
  142. VIPA - Parade means an identification parade which is conducted by video of the suspect and choosing other comparison identities from a national data base and is considered generally to be more fair to the suspect who gets to choose others in the line up of the identification parade.
  143. Volunteer - means a person who attends a police station voluntarily (not under arrest) to answer questions that may incriminate him. Such person can demand to leave at any time.
  144. Witness - a person who gives evidence in Court or in a witness statement.
  145. Witness expenses - means the travel and accommodation expenses that a witness can claim for attending Court - (check with court office for details)
  146. Witness summons - means an order for a person to attend Court with or without documents.
  147. Youth means a person under the age of 17
  148. Youth Court means the Court where youth cases are heard as opposed to the Magistrates Court for adults.

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