American Legal System Chapter 2

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  1. Crime
    Action that offends the morality of society and that society will not tolerate.
  2. Criminal Justice System
    System whereby the federal or a state government brings an action against an individual alleging that the individual has broken a law or laws, thereby committing a crime.
  3. Felony
    Major crime for which a severe penalty, such as a substantial fine, imprisonment, or capital punishment, may be assessed.
  4. Misdemeanor
    Minor crime, varying from a traffic violation to theft of a small amount of money.
  5. Procedural due process
    Rights and privileges available under the Bill of Rights to the defendant in a criminal matter, such as notice that he or she is accused of a crime, and a fair hearing.
  6. Probable cause
    Evidence that leads a reasonable person to believe that guilt is more than a possibility.
  7. Exclusionary rule
    Rule that evidence obtained in violations of standards set out in the Fourth Amendment must be excluded from Court.
  8. Grand jury indictment
    Charge made by an official body of citizens brought together to decide whether a person accused of a crime should be officially charged.
  9. Grand jury
    Official body of citizens brought together to decide whether an accused person should be officially charged.
  10. Indictment
    Decision by a grand jury that a person must be brought to trial.
  11. Double jeopardy
    Doctrine under which an individual may not be tried more than once for the same allegation.
  12. Privilege against self-incrimination
    Privilege, provided by a clause in the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, that one shall not be compelled to be a witness against oneself.
  13. Miranda Rule
    Rule requiring an oral admonition advising a person under arrest of the rights he or she has under the United States Constitution, such as the right against self-incrimination and the right to have an attorney present.
  14. Prosecutor
    The person who represents the government in a criminal proceeding and who prepares and conducts the case against the accused; at the municipal and state level, the person is usually called the district attorney; at the federa level, the person is called a U.S. attorney.
  15. Citation
    Order to appear before a Judge at a later date.
  16. Information
    Written accusation by a competent public officer upon his or her oath of office that a person has committed a criminal offense. Form of indictment but without grand jury involvement.
  17. Complaint
    Charging document that initiates a litigation proceeding; document filed with the Court outlining the wrong a plaintiff believes has been done.
  18. Pretrial release program
    Program under which a defendant is allowed release until trial in return for paying a small premium on a bail bond called a pretrial release bond; see bail bond.
  19. Bail bond
    Legal document containing the promise of a defendant to appear for trial or to forfeit a sum of money.
  20. Cash bond
    Bail bond for which guarantee is made by a deposit of cash.
  21. Surety bond
    Bail bond by which guarantee is made by a second person's promise to pay if the defendant fails to appear for trial.
  22. Appearance bond
    Bail bond for a minor offense.
  23. Personal recognizance
    Promise of defendant to appear at trial, without a sum of money to guarantee such appearance; see bail bond.
  24. Arraignment
    Occasion at which the defendant is brought into Court and the charge or charges against the defendant are read.
  25. Nolo contendere
    "I will not contest it," an alternate plea to "guilty" or "not guilty."
  26. Plea bargaining
    Negotiation between the prosecutor and defense counsel to have the defendant enter a guilty plea in exchange from some benefit to the defendant, such as a reduction of charges.
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American Legal System Chapter 2
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