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Adversary System
U.S. method of criminal adjudication in which prosecution (the state) and defense (the accused) each try to bring forward evidence and arguments, with guilt or innocence ultimately decided by an impartial judge or jury.
Appeal
Taking a criminal case to a higher court on the grounds that the defendant was found guilty because of legal error or violation of constitutional rights; a successful appeal may result in a new trial.
Arraignment
The step in the criminal justice process when the accused is brought before the trial judge, formal charges are read, defendants are informed of their rights, a plea is entered, bail is considered, and a trial date is set.
Arrest
The taking into police custody of an individual suspected of a crime.
Bail
A money bond intended to ensure that the accused will return for trial.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure, self-incrimination, and cruel punishment.
Booking
Fingerprinting, photographing, and recording personal information of a suspect in police custody.
Community Policing
A style of policing that requires departments to reshape their forces into community change agents in order to work with citizens to reduce crime at the neighborhood level.
Convictability
Existence of conditions surrounding a criminal case that indicate it has a good chance of a conviction.
Courtroom Work Group
Prosecution, defense, and judges working together to resolve criminal cases quickly and efficiently through plea bargaining.
Crime Control Model
View that the overriding purpose of the justice system is to protect the public, deter criminal behavior, and incapacitate known criminals; favors speedy, efficient justice and punishment.
Criminal Justice System
The agencies of government—police, courts, and corrections—responsible for apprehending, adjudicating, sanctioning, and treating criminal offenders.
Defendant
In criminal proceedings, the person accused of violating the law.
Defense Attorney
Person responsible for protecting the constitutional rights of the accused and presenting the best possible legal defense; represents a defendant from initial arrest through trial, sentencing, and any appeal.
Determinant Sentencing
Principle that all offenders who commit the same crime should receive the same sentence.
Discretion
The use of personal decision making by those carrying out police, judicial, and sanctioning functions within the criminal justice system.
Disposition
Sentencing of a defendant who has been found guilty; usually involves a fine, probation, or incarceration.
Due Process Model
View that focuses on protecting the civil rights of those accused of crime.
Hidden Exclusionary Rule
The rule that evidence against a defendant may not be presented in court if it was obtained in violation of the defendant’s rights.
Grand Jury
A group of citizens chosen to hear testimony in secret and to issue formal criminal accusations (indictments).
Hung Jury
A jury that is unable to agree on a decision, thus leaving the case unresolved and open for a possible retrial.
Incarceration
Confinement in jail or prison.
Indictment
A written accusation returned by a grand jury charging an individual with a specified crime, based on the prosecutor’s presentation of probable cause.
Information
A filing before an impartial lower-court judge who decides whether the case should go forward (alternative to grand jury).
Interrogation
The questioning of a suspect in police custody.
Jail
Institution, usually run by the county, for short-term detention of those convicted of misdemeanors and those awaiting trial or other judicial proceedings.
Justice Model
View that emphasizes fairness and equal treatment in criminal procedures and sentencing.
Landmark Decision
A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that serves as a precedent for similar legal issues; it often influences the everyday operating procedures of police agencies, trial courts, and corrections institutions.
Law of Criminal Procedure
Judicial precedents that define and guarantee the rights of criminal defendants and control the various components of the criminal justice system.
Miranda Rights
Rights of criminal defendants, including the right against self-incrimination and right to counsel, spelled out in the case of Miranda v. Arizona.
Noninterventionist Model
View that arresting and labeling offenders does more harm than good, that youthful offenders in particular should be diverted into informal treatment programs, and that minor offenses should be decriminalized.
Parole
Conditional early release from prison, with the offender serving the remainder of the sentence in the community under the supervision of a parole officer.
Plea Bargain
Agreement between prosecution and defense in which the accused pleads guilty in return for a reduction of charges, a more lenient sentence, or some other consideration.
Preliminary Hearing
Alternative to a grand jury, in which an impartial lower-court judge decides whether there is probable cause sufficient for a trial.
Prison
State or federally operated facility for the incarceration of felony offenders sentenced by the criminal courts.
Pro Bono
Free legal counsel provided to indigent defendants by private attorneys as a service to the profession and the community.
Probable Cause
Evidence of a crime, and of a suspect’s involvement in it, sufficient to warrant an arrest.
Probation
Conditional release of a convicted offender into the community under the supervision of a probation officer and subject to certain conditions.
Problem Oriented Policing
Proactive form of policing: Rather than responding to crime after it occurs, police identify and respond to potential problems before they occur.
Prosecutor
Public official who represents the government in criminal proceedings, presenting the case against the accused.
Public Defender
Attorney employed by the state whose job is to provide free legal counsel to indigent defendants.
Recognizance
Pledge by the accused to return for trial, which may be accepted in lieu of bail.
Rehabilitation Model
View that sees criminals as victims of social injustice, poverty, and racism and suggests that appropriate treatment can change them into productive, law-abiding citizens.
Restorative Justice Model
View that emphasizes the promotion of a peaceful, just society through reconciliation and reintegration of the offender into society.
Right to Council
The right of a person accused of crime to the assistance of a defense attorney in all criminal prosecutions.
Truth in Sentencing
The requirement that inmates serve a greater percentage of their sentence behind bars before they are eligible for early release mechanisms such as parole.
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