Chapter 20

  1. Penal Code
    Body of law that defines most criminal offenses and sets a range of punishments that can be assessed.
  2. Felonies
    Serious criminal offenses that can be punished by imprisonment and/or a fine.
  3. Misdemeanors
    Minor criminal offenses punished by a fine and/or a short sentence in the county jail.
  4. Civil Lawsuits
    Noncriminal legal disputes between two or more individuals, businesses, governments, or other entities.
  5. Plantiff
    Individual or party who initiates a lawsuit.
  6. Original Jurisdiction
    Authority of a court to try or resolve civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution being held for the first time.
  7. Appellate Jurisdiction
    Authority of a court to review the decisions of lower courts to determine if the law was correctly interpreted and legal procedures correctly followed.
  8. Statutes
    Laws enacted by a legislatures body.
  9. Municipal Courts
    Courts of limited jurisdiction that hear cases involving city ordinances and primarily handle traffic tickets.
  10. Ordinance
    Local laws enacted by a city council.
  11. De Novo
    Latin for "anew." In a civil lawsuit or criminal trial, evidence is presented de novo before an appellate court, because no record was kept of the evidence presented to the trial court.
  12. Justice of the Peace Court
    Low-ranking court with jurisdiction over minor civil disputes and criminal cases.
  13. Constitutional County Court
    County court created by the Texas constitution and presided over by the county judge.
  14. Statutory County Courts
    Courts that exercise limited jurisdictions over criminal and/or civil cases. The jurisdiction of these courts varies from county to county.
  15. District Court
    Primary trial court in Texas. It had jurisdiction over criminal felony cases and civil disputes.
  16. Plea Bargaining
    Procedure that allows a person charged with a crime to negotiate a guilty plea with prosecutors in exchange for a lighter sentence than he or she would expect to receive if convicted in a trial.
  17. Court of Appeals
    Intermediate-level courts that review civil and criminal cases from the district courts.
  18. Texas Supreme Court
    Nine-member court with final appellate jurisdiction over civil lawsuits.
  19. Texas Courts of Criminal Appeals
    Nine-member court with final appellate jurisdiction over criminal cases.
  20. Grand Jury
    Panel that reviews evidence submitted by prosecutors to determine whether to indict, or change, an individual with a criminal offense.
  21. Prosecution
    The institution and carrying on of legal proceedings against a person.
  22. Indictment
    Written statement issued by a grand jury charging a person with a punishable offense.
  23. Information
    A document formally charging an individual with a misdemeanor.
  24. Petit Jury
    The jury on which most people are likely to be called to serve is the trial jury.
  25. Veniremen
    Attorneys for both sides in a criminal or civil case screen the prospective jurors.
  26. Peremptory Challenge
    Allows attorneys to dismiss a prospective juror without having to explain the reason, and an unlimited number of challenges for cause.
  27. Merit Selection
    Proposal under which the governor would appoint state judges from lists compiled by committees of experts. Appointed judges would have to run later in retention elections to keep their seats but would not have opponents on the ballot.
  28. Tort Reform
    Changes in state law to put limits on personal injury lawsuits and damage judgments rendered by the courts.
  29. Retention Elections
    Elections in which judges run on their own records rather than against other candidates. Voters cast their ballots on the question of whether the incumbent judge should stay in office.
  30. Ward Politics
  31. Miranda Ruling
    Far-reaching decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that requires law enforcement officers to warn a criminal suspect of his or her right to remain silent and to have an attorney present before questioning.
  32. Nolo Contenders
    Plea of "no contest" to a criminal charge.
  33. Capital Murder
    Murder committed under certain circumstances for which the death penalty or life in prison must be imposed.
  34. Probation
    Procedure under which a convicted criminal is not sent to prison if he or she meets certain conditions, such as restrictions on travel and associates.
  35. Parol
    Early release of an inmate from prison, subject to certain condition.
Card Set
Chapter 20