Former State's Attorney With Over 38 Years of Experience

Judge Hammer

Criminal Defense-Defining Legal Terminology and its Implications

Criminal law is a system of laws that punish individuals who commit crimes. A criminal offense or crime is a guilty act combined with a guilty intent act punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.

A criminal lawyer’s job is to defend the defendant or accused legally against the state’s charges. American law operates on the premise that individuals charged with a crime have inviolable rights and are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Crimes punishable by law are categorized into five broad groups:

 Property Crimes

Cases of interference with another’s property.

 Statutory Crimes

Offenses proscribed by statutes are mostly related to alcohol, traffic, or societal issues.

 Financial Crimes

These are also white-collar crimes, including fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, and blackmail.

Inchoate Crimes

These are crimes that a defendant assisted in or did not fully complete.

Criminal defense lawyers build a strong case based on their client’s rights until the government restricts those rights. If the client is found guilty, the defendants go through the criminal process once they are accused. The criminal justice system uses the criminal procedure to investigate and prosecute a crime while protecting the defendant’s rights. The criminal process of prosecuting accused persons can be carried out in two different ways;

police officer, criminal lawyers

In federal criminal cases, individuals are afforded certain rights in the bill of rights, namely the fourth, sixth, and eighth Amendments in federal courts. This is the basis for federal procedural rights according to the federal statutes of federal crimes enacted in congress in 1945.

State Crimes

People accused of state crimes use state criminal procedures. State criminal procedures vary from state to state because they are defined by their statute rules, state constitution, and judicial decisions.

Once federal or state crimes are reported, investigated, and arrests are made. The arrested defendant will now go through the criminal process in state and federal courts. The criminal process involves; Booking, arraignment, posting of bail, preliminary hearings of the trial, sentencing, and finally, punishment.

Criminal Defense Lawyers

It is necessary to have an experienced criminal defense attorney with whom you have a good attorney-client relationship to see you through the criminal process. You can determine this by consulting with the criminal defense lawyer in their law offices. Top criminal defense lawyers use standard legal terminology, described as the formal language of legal documents, which helps maintain consistency in criminal law processes.

It is necessary for people and their loved ones going through the criminal procedure to have an attorney present or understand this legal language. Commonly used terms specific to criminal defense law, according to the Glossary of Legal Terms of the United States courts, that one will hear or see in documents used in a case, are as follows;

An Accomplice– An individual who helps another, commits a crime, and is physically present on a crime scene.

Admissible -This is evidence deemed reliable by a judge and jury in a criminal trial.

Acquittal-This is the conclusion a judge or jury makes that the evidence presented is not enough to convict an individual or a jury verdict of not guilty.

Aggravated assault– an intentional attempt to cause bodily harm to another using a deadly weapon,

Admission-The acknowledgment of a crime.

Aggravated battery-unlawful use of force against another with consequences.

Allegation– A claim that an individual or a party intends to prove

Appeal– Criminal appeals are requests by the defense to have a case reviewed by the court of appeal.

A bench trial-Trial in which the judge decides the facts without a jury; is also known as a court trial.

Best Evidence Rule– An evidence rule that demands the use of the original document, recording, photographs as evidence, as opposed to a copy

Booking-This is an administrative procedure that involves registering the accused’s name, telephone number, address, fingerprints, photos, and criminal charges.

Bail-Property or money, held as security by the court when a defendant is released. It is an assurance that the accused will appear in court when called upon to. Revoking bail happens when a defendant fails to appear for the next hearing.

Beyond the reasonable doubt-The burden of proof of the prosecution carries to obtain a guilty verdict. Federal prosecutors have the burden of proof to establish a crime element beyond a reasonable doubt.

Capital offense– This is a crime punishable by death.

Custody-Detaining an individual using law enforcers or police officers to assure their appearance in court for the hearing.

Cause of action-Related charges combined with wrongs committed against a defendant.

Criminal Summons-An order commanding an accused individual to appear in court

Charge-A formal accusation that a specific person has committed a particular crime.

Criminal Records– This is a written record of criminal court proceedings.

Defendant– The person accused of the crime.

Due process of law– procedures that law enforcers, police officers, and the court follows to ensure an individual gets an impartial, fair trial.

Dismissal- Termination of formal charges.

Evidence-A testimony, presented in document form that is useful for persuading a judge or jury to decide in favor of one side in a case.

Felony offense-These are serious crimes and serious criminal charges that are punishable by imprisonment for more than one year and even death. These include murder, robbery, treason, sex crimes, kidnapping, drug crimes, mayhem, burglary, and violent crimes. In some states, residential mortgage fraud, and terrorism, are included as felony offenses.

Indictment – A formal accusation, written by the grand jury and filed in court, alleging that a specific person has committed a particular crime.

Litigation– A controversy, case, or lawsuit. Litigants are the participants in a case.

Lawsuit-A legal action against a defendant because they (the defendant) failed to perform a legal duty that resulted in the harming of the plaintiff.

Misdemeanors – These are less serious crimes than felonies. Punishments for misdemeanors are fines, loss of privileges, or one year in jail. These include; petty theft, reckless driving, vandalism, trespassing, simple assault, drug possession, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct.

Plaintiff – This party files a formal criminal charges complaint with the court.

Prosecute-Charge someone with a crime.

Remand– send back

Statute of limitations-the time within which a lawsuit is filed.

Subpoena– A command issued to a witness to appear and give testimony in court.

Testimony– Oral evidence presented by witnesses before the grand jury.

Verdict-the final decision made by the judge and the jury,

Warrant– A court authorization to make an arrest or search premises.

Writ– a written court order that indicates a person to refrain or do an activity.


Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

We offer experienced legal representation and legal defense with the best defense strategies against any alleged criminal offenses involving; personal injury, domestic violence, felony charges, drug offenses, weapon crimes, bank fraud, attempted murder, traffic-related crimes, sexual assault, and family law.

For more information about criminal defense and a free consultation with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer, contact us at 708-801-6762.


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