Going through any type of legal process can be stressful, especially when you aren’t able to understand the conversations happening around you in and out of the courtroom. Lucky for you, your criminal defense attorney will have the answers to everything you need to know, but if you’re looking to understand a few of the basic legal terms – this guide is for you.
Arraignment – The procedure that takes place in a courtroom, in front of a judge, where one is read exactly what crime they’ve been charged with and are given the opportunity to enter their initial plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Cross Examination – When the lawyer for the plaintiff has finished questioning a witness, the lawyer for the defendant may then cross-examine the witness. Cross-examination is generally limited to questioning only on matters that were raised during direct examination. During this process, the goal is to uncover answers that may help their case.
Due Process – Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it.
Plea – A plea is the response by an accused defendant to each charge of the commission of a crime. Pleas normally are not guilty, guilty, no contest, or not guilty by reason of insanity. Pleas are entered orally during an arraignment.
Dismissal – A dismissal is the act of voluntarily terminating a criminal prosecution or a lawsuit or one of its causes of action by one of the parties or a judge’s ruling that a lawsuit or criminal charge is terminated.
Discovery – Discovery is the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they’ll present at trial. It enables the everyone to know before the trial begins what evidence may be presented. It’s designed to prevent “trial by ambush,” where one side doesn’t learn of the other side’s evidence or witnesses until the trial, when there’s no time to obtain answering evidence.
Motion – A motion is an application to the court made by the prosecutor or defense attorney, requesting that the court make a decision on a certain issue before the trial begins. The most common motions are: Motion to Dismiss – an attempt to get the judge to dismiss a charge or the case; Motion to Suppress – an attempt to keep certain statements or evidence from being introduced as evidence; and Motion for Change of Venue – may be made for various reasons including pre-trial publicity.
Testify – When someone testifies in a court of law, they are giving a statement of what they saw someone do or what they know of a situation, after having promised to tell the truth as they are legally under oath.
If you or a loved one are being charged with a crime, worrying about legal jargon shouldn’t be on your mind. Consider hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle the process on your behalf. Russell Spatz knows the language and the laws with over four decades of experience. Give him a call today at (305) 442-0200 to set up a consultation to discuss your case.