Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Criminal Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Criminal Law DictionaryCriminal Law is that body of the law that deals with conduct considered so harmful to society as a whole that it is prohibited by statute, prosecuted and punished by the government. This dictionary is a listing of the criminal law terms present in our main Legal Dictionary.

To take someone away from a place without that person's consent, or by fraud.
A spontaneous and gratuitous murder.
Aberratio Ictus
Latin: the accidental harm to a person; e.g. perpetrator aims at X but by chance or lack of skill hits Y.
Encouraging or inciting another to do a certain thing, such as a crime.
The expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it is viable.
Absolute Discharge
A sentence of a person guilty of a crime in which the accused is deemed to have not been convicted. In bankruptcy law, to be fully absolved of former debts and the status of bankrupt.
Absolute Liability
Offences in which it is not open to a person to avoid liability on the ground that she or he acted under a reasonable mistake of fact which, if the facts had been as the accused believed them to be, would have made his act innocent.
Abstract Instruction
An instruction given to a jury which though correct in law, is irrelevant.
Physical or nonphysical misuse or maltreatment or use or treatment so as to injure, hurt, or damage.
Persons who aid or abet the principal offender in the commission of the offence, before or after.
Person(s) that aids, abets, advises, or encourages the commission of the crime.
Accusare Nemo Se Debet Nisi Coram Deo
Latin: no man is obliged to accusehimself except before God.
The formal criminal charge against a person which specifies the essential ingredients in regards to the alleged offence such as time and place and the relevant reference to the criminal law allegedly breached.
A person to whom a formal information containing an allegation of a criminal offence has been delivered, or a person arrested for a criminal offence.
A decision by a judge that a person accused of a crime is not guilty.
Active Euthanasia
The taking of active measures to cut short the life of a terminally ill patient.
Actus Reus
Latin: a prohibited act.
Actus Reus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea
Latin: conviction of a crime requires proof of a criminal act and intent.
Administration of Justice
The personnel, activity and structure of the justice system - courts and police - in the detection, investigation, apprehension, interviewing and trial of persons suspected of crime.
Ad Quaestionem Facti Non Respondent Judices, Ad Quaestionem Juris Non Respondent Juratores
Latin: The judge instructs on points of law and the jury decides matters of fact.
A fight between two or more persons in a public place so as to cause terror to the public.
Unjustified use of force against the territorial integrity of another state.
Air of Reality Test
A pre-requisite test against which a proposed defence to a criminal charge is weighed; that any proposed defence must at least have an evidential foundation.
A defence to a criminal charge to the effect that the accused was elsewhere than at the scene of the alleged crime.
Alternative Measures
Canada; a much lighter disposition of a criminal charge regarding an adult accused who would be prepared to plead guilty and which does not result in a criminal record or incarceration but instead usually results in a mild penalty such as community service, an apology to the victim or counseling.
A general pardon extended by the government to those persons facing prosecution for, or convicted of specified criminal offences.
Animus Furandi
Latin: an intent to do wrong.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.
The ancient criminal offence of atheism or not being Christian, or of denying the doctrines of a state religion.
A person who confesses a felony and confesses an accomplice.
Arbuckle Rights
The right of an accused to be sentenced by the judge who took his guilty plea.
Armed Robbery
Robbery committed while the person accused is armed with a dangerous weapon.
The formal appearance of an accused person to hear, and to receive a copy of, the charge against him or her, in the presence of a judge, and to then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
The detainment or restraint of a person or thing for the purposes of determining legal rights as regards a thing, or suspicion of criminal activity as regards a person.
The intentional setting of a fire to a building.
The touching of another person with an intent to harm, without that person's consent.
Assisted Suicide
An attempt to take one's own life with the intentional assistance of another person.
Attaint of Blood
The additional personal penalties imposed on the estate of an individual convicted of high treason.
An act done by a person who is not conscious of what he is doing.
Autrefois Acquit
Previously acquitted; an accused cannot be tried for a crime because the record shows he has already been subjected to trial for the same conduct and was acquitted.
The pledge of cash or property to secure the release of a thing or person which would otherwise be held in custody.
A person acting with legal authority in the seizure of personal property; and, also, the official in each courtroom who attends to security within.
A person who, on more than one occasion, incites litigation or spreads false rumours.
An intentional wrongful act committed by the crew or master of a ship to the prejudice of the owner or the charterer.
Battered Woman Syndrome
A species of self-defence to manslaughter or murder in which expert evidence is led to demonstrate that a female defendant in an abusive relationship comes to believe that to save herself she must kill her husband first.
Battering Cycle
A three-phase cycle of violent behavior within a spousal relationship.
Offensive and intentional contact, direct or indirect, which causes injury.
Bawdy House
A brothel; an establishment of ill repute - within which occur acts of prostitution or lewd sex.
A judge in court session.
Being married to more than one person at the same time; a criminal offence in most jurisdictions.
Bill of Attainder
Conviction and sentence to death directly by statute, as opposed to resulting from trial.
The obtaining or attempting to obtain something by the use of threats.
The scurrilous, deriding or intemperate expression of dissent or criticism of God or a state's official religion.
Blue Ribbon Jury
A jury consisting of highly qualified persons.
The making of an unauthorized copy of a commercially unreleased performance.
Booze Can
An establishment wherein liquor is sold without a permit and after legal bar hours.
Brady Rule
The suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or punishment.
Break and Enter
A burglary; to break and enter onto another's premises, land or real property with the intent to there commit a crime, most typically theft
A device which records alcohol impairment.
A secret payment to a public officer in exchange for preferential treatment.
Synonymous with sodomy and referring to 'unnatural' sex acts, including copulation, either between two persons of the same sex or between a person and an animal.
Repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to another person's body, emotions, self-esteem or reputation.
Burden of Proof
A rule of evidence that makes a person prove a certain thing or the contrary will be assumed by the court.
Breaking and entering a residence for the intention of committing a crime or while lawfully within, commit a crime and to thereafter break out.
Capital Offence
A criminal offence for which the punishment, or one of the punishments, is death, capital punishment.
Capital Punishment
The most severe of all sentences: that of death.
Carrier's Case
A monumental 1473 English case which extended the offence of theft (then called larceny) to include a carrier of goods who, initially lawfully in possession, converts goods to his own use.
Car Ringing
The movement of stolen vehicles through to sale to unsuspecting new purchasers.
An agreement between two or more merchants to create or control a monopoly, to lessen or prevent competition.
The cause and effect relationship between an act or omission and damages alleged in a tort or personal injury action.
Challenge for Cause
A challenge of a prospective juror for which the cause is disclosed by the challenging party (or their lawyer), and submitted to the Court for decision.
Chance Medley
A sudden, unplanned brawl.
A person who has never voluntarily had sexual intercourse outside of marriage such as unmarried virgins.
Circumstantial Evidence
Evidence which may allow a judge or jury to deduce a certain fact from other facts which have been proven.
An order of a court to either do a certain thing or to appear before it to answer charges.
Citizen Informant
An ordinary citizen who has witnessed a crime and then reports it to law enforcement officials.
Citizen's Arrest
Detainment of a person suspected of having committed a crime, by a person other than a police officer.
Something purposely kept from the view or knowledge of others either in violation of the law or to conduct or conceal some illegal purpose.
A secret agreement between two or more persons, who seem to have conflicting interests, to abuse the law or the legal system, deceive a court or to defraud a third party.
Colour of Right
A good faith assertion of a proprietary or possessory right to a thing.
Common Law
Judge-declared law. Law which exists and applies to a group on the basis of customs and legal precedents developed over hundreds of years in Britain.
Common Scold
The now extinct offence of an angry woman who, by brawling and wrangling amongst her neighbours, disturbs the public peace.
Community Custody
The serving of part of an offender's confinement served in the community while the offender is strictly monitored.
The reduction of a sentence by the government.
An individual's ability to understand the nature and object of legal proceedings being presented, and to consult with counsel.
Complicated Design Evidence
Circumstantial proof of deliberation in a first degree murder case, that in the absence of evidence of planning, the complicated manner of the crime shows that the murder could not have been spur-of-the-moment.
Accountable for a criminal offense committed by another due to previous knowledge of other's crime.
Concurrent Sentence
A sentence which runs with another.
As regards to punishment for crime; appropriate, fitting, deserved.
Conditional Discharge
A sentence of a person found guilty of a crime in which upon completion of specified actions by the accused, no criminal record issues as regards the offense for which a conditional discharge was granted.
Conditional Sentence
A sentence of a person convicted of a crime which allow that person to serve his sentence whilst continuing to reside within his/her community, subject to supervision and reporting, and fully recoverable in the event of breach of those conditions.
A statement made by a person suspected or charged with a crime, that he (or she) did, in fact, commit that crime.
Confrontation Clause
The constitutional guarantee in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution which requires that an accused person have the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.
Common blood, descendants of a same common ancestor.
Consecutive Sentences
Sentences which run one after the other.
An agreement between two or more persons to commit a criminal act.
Consultation Circle
A group of individuals from the accused's community who participate in a forum and discuss the offender and the crime with a view to advising the judge as to sentence.
Contempt of Court
Conduct that is disobedient, obstructive or contemptuous to the Court.
An item the possession or production of which in itself is a crime.
The formal decision of a criminal trial which finds the accused guilty.
Sexual intercourse.
Corbett Application
Canada: an application by an accused to exclude a prior criminal record from the knowledge of the jury.
A public official who holds an inquiry into violent or suspicious deaths.
Corporal Punishment
A punishment for some violation of conduct which involves the infliction of pain on, or harm to the body
Corpus Delicti
Latin: the body of the offense.
Corrective Force
Force used upon those over which an individual generally has guardian responsibilities, used to remove a dependent from a particular situation or to secure compliance with instructions.
Court Martial
A military court set up to try and punish offenses taken by members of the army, navy or air force.
Street name for a form of cocaine base, usually prepared by processing cocaine hydrochloride and sodium bicarbonate, and usually appearing in a lumpy, rocklike form.
An act or omission which is prohibited by criminal law and punished, usually by fine or imprisonment.
Crimen Omnia Ex Se Nata Vitiat
Latin: property obtained by crime is tainted (vitiated).
Crimes Against Humanity
An international criminal justice offence; the perpetration of acts of war upon a civilian, non-soldier population.
Criminal Bankruptcy
The forced bankruptcy of a convicted person.
Criminal Code
A statute which purports or attempts to set out all prohibited or criminal offences, and their various punishments.
Criminal Contempt
Contumacious behaviour or behaviour which tends to publicly depreciate the authority of the court or the administration of justice.
Criminal Conversation
Criminal conversation: synonymous with adultery.
Criminal Harassment
Unsolicited annoying, alarming or abusive conduct or words which are threatening, and which are prohibited by law.
A crime scene investigator applying science to the recognition, documentation, collection, preservation, and interpretation of physical evidence.
Criminal Law
That body of the law that deals with conduct considered so harmful to society as a whole that it is prohibited by statute, prosecuted and punished by the government.
Criminal Libel
A criminal offence; deliberate publication of defamatory lies which the publisher knows to be false.
Criminal Negligence
Reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.
Criminal Organization
Members of a group of three of more persons involved in organized crime.
A sociologist who specializes in the study of crime as a social phenomenon.
The English Monarch, where she is the symbolic head of state.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Punishments which involve unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.
Conduct that causes bodily or mental injury, or apprehension to such injury, to a person or an animal, without legitimate purpose.
Cucking Stool
A medieval form of punishment; a chair in which was restrained an offender.
A sentence or bail condition that gives the individual the freedom to move about in the community so long as they return to their residence for the hours specified (often 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.).
Charge and control of a person or item of property.
Using the Internet to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to harm someone else.
Dangerous Driving
The operating of a motor vehicle in a manner which has as one of its inherent qualities the exposure of the public to harm or injury.
Dangerous Offender
A person convicted of serious crimes and who is likely to re-offend.
Danger to Society
Where an offender would engage in conduct, the consequences of which would be grave or serious for society.
Deadly Force
Force which creates a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury.
Irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions and of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.
Death Penalty
A sentence of death imposed on a convicted criminal.
Willful or reckless misrepresentation or concealment of material facts with an intent to mislead.
Defence of Habitation
The right to use lethal force to prevent a felony committed within a person's home.
The individual, company or organization who defends a legal action taken by a plaintiff and against whom the court has been asked to order damages or specific corrective action redress some type of unlawful or improper action alleged by the plaintiff.
Defense Attorney or Defence Counsel
Lawyers who represent persons facing criminal charges.
USA constitutional law: the substandard performance of an attorney.
To corrupt the integrity of a thing.
An act which is neither sudden nor rash and for which an individual considered the probable consequences beforehand.
Deliberate Ignorance
Willful blindness to criminal activity.
Deliberate Indifference
Ignoring a situation known to exist.
De Minimis Non Curat Lex
Latin: a common law principle whereby judges will not sit in judgment of extremely minor transgressions of the law.
A principle of sentencing in criminal law; that the sentence send a clear message to the general public that the offence is serious and the punishment just.
The removal of a foreign national under immigration laws for reasons such as illegal entry or conduct dangerous to the public welfare.
Depraved Heart Murder
Where an individual under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby caused the death of another person.
Depravity of Mind
A degree of moral turpitude and psychical debasement associated with a crime such as repeated and excessive acts of physical abuse or unreasonably brutality or outrageously and wantonly vile, horrible, and inhuman.
The exceptional doctrine of judicial abrogation of a criminal statute where there has been a long period of non-enforcement.
The exercise of an element of physical constraint of an individual.
A principle or objective of sentencing a person guilty of a crime which ensures that the punishment is sufficient to deter the guilty person, and others, from committing the same crime.
Diplomatic Immunity
Immunity extended to diplomat officers from criminal and civil jurisdiction of their host state.
Directed Verdict
When the Court stops a trial determining that an essential fact has not been proven.
A sentence of a person found guilty of a crime in which that person does not receive a criminal record of conviction, either absolutely or conditionally.
The delivery to the other side of a legal matter of relevant documents or other evidence.
Disorderly House
A place where acts prohibited by statute are habitually indulged in or permitted.
District Attorney
A lawyer in the USA charged with prosecution of criminal charges on behalf of the government.
Muslim law: the payment by an aggressor to his victim of a sum of money to thus avoid a retaliation punishment ("kisas").
Abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid. A chromosome molecule which carries genetic coding unique to each person with the only exception of identical twins (that is why it is also called 'DNA fingerprinting').
Doctrine of Specialty
A typical requirement in extradition: that the receiving state not prosecute the individual being extradicted but for the offence for which extradition was sought.
Dolus Directus
When an accused is taken to have objectively foreseen the consequences of his/her act.
Dolus Eventualis
Awareness of the likely outcome of an action.
Domestic Violence
An assault or battery upon another member of a family or, in some jurisdictions, threatening words.
Double-Blind Photographic Identification
The presentation of an array of photos to a crime victim for the purposes of identifying the perpetrator, by an officer neither involved in the investigation nor aware of who the suspect is.
Double Jeopardy
A prohibition against being tried or sentenced twice for the same offense.
Double Plea
Two or more pleas which includes a contradictory alternative.
Doyle Rule
(USA) A rule of criminal process that the use for impeachment purposes of a defendant's silence, at the time of arrest and after receiving Miranda warnings, violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Dual Criminality
A typical requirement of extradition treaties: that the conduct alleged constitute a crime in both the demanding and the delivering state.
Dual Sovereignty Doctrine
A maxim of law which allows the double prosecution of a person by more than one state for the same crime, where both states have jurisdiction for the prosecution, and notwithstanding the double jeopardy rule.
Ducking Stool
A contraption of medieval English justice comprised of a chair in which a convict was affixed and then immersed repeatedly into a body of water.
The fighting of two persons, one against the other, by pre-arranged appointment, as a form of ultimate dispute resolution.
Due Process
Fundamental procedural legal safeguards of which every citizen has an absolute right when a state or court purports to take a decision that could affect any right of that citizen.
A place to live in.
Dying Declaration
Exception to the hearsay rule: a statement of fact made by a dying victim relating to the cause and circumstances of a homicide.
Those convicted of the obsolete offence of intentional, covert and direct listening-in to another's conversations, and the subsequent use of the contents thereof to disturb the peace.
Eighth Amendment
US constitutional amendment that prohibits "excessive bail (or) fines (and) cruel and unusual punishment...."
Electronic Monitoring
Electronic or telecommunications systems used to track and supervise the locations of individuals.
The illegal transfer of money or property that, although possessed legally by the embezzler, is covertly and fraudulently converted to the embezzler's own property.
Improper influence on a juror.
Also, "impanel"; the official call to duty of a jury, usually as called by the clerk of the Court in which the jury is to act, and just before the jurors are sworn in.
The inducement, by law enforcement officers or their agents, of another person to commit a crime for the purposes of bringing charges for the commission of that artificially-provoked crime.
Error In Objecto
A mistake by a perpetrator as to the identity of the victim; an error as to the object of his act.
The putting to death, by painless method, of a terminally-ill or severely debilitated person.
That which excuses from fault; justifies a wrong action.
Excusable Homicide
The accidental or self-defence killing of another person.
A sexual disorder in which a person is sexually aroused by exposing his genitals to unsuspecting others.
To remove permanently; to cancel.
Ex Rel
Latin: on the relation of, or the information of.
Forcing a person to give up property in a thing through the use of violence, fear or under pretense of authority.
The arrest and delivery of a fugitive wanted for a crime committed in another country, usually under the terms of a extradition treaty.
Extradition Crime
Conduct which is a crime in both the state seeking extradition and the state extraditing.
Facial Mapping
An identification technique which distinguishes unique facial characteristics of an individual.
Factitious Disorder by Proxy
Very rare mental disorder where a person deliberately feigns symptoms of someone in their care.
Faint Hope Clause
Canada criminal law: a term in a 25 year prison term that salvages a remote possibility that the individual may be paroled prior to the full completion of the term of incarceration.
False Arrest
The intentional and total confinement of a person against his will without lawful justification.
False Imprisonment
Intentional and total imprisonment of a person against his or her will and without lawful justification.
Felonious Homicide
The killing of a human being without justification or excuse.
A serious crime for which the traditional punishment is prison for more than a year, or death.
Fifth Amendment
A US Constitution article which provides fundamental rights in regards to legal process such as the immunity in regards to self incrimination.
First Degree Murder
The unlawful killing of another human being with malice, premeditation and deliberation.
The making of a false document knowing it to be false with intent that it should be used or acted on as genuine to the prejudice of another.
Fourth Amendment
US constitutional protection against unreasonable search or arrest.
A community pledge in medieval England whereby a defined number of people were jointly held responsible for the denunciation of any crime within their group.
Deceitful or deceptive conduct designed to manipulate another person to give something of value.
Cocaine which has been purified by dissolving in a heated solvent, and then burned and the fumes inhaled.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine
Bars the admission of physical evidence and live testimony obtained directly or indirectly through the exploitation of unconstitutional police conduct.
To denunciate something, or a general swear word without necessarily referring to sex.
One who runs away to avoid arrest, prosecution or imprisonment.
General Deterrence
A sentencing objective which aims to discourage persons other than the offender, from committing a similar offence.
Systematic killing of persons because of their ethnicity.
Gladue Rights
(Canada) Purported special rights available only to Aboriginal offenders on sentencing.
Grand Jury
An American criminal justice procedure whereby, in each court district, a group of 16-23 citizens hold an inquiry on criminal complaints brought by the prosecutor and decide if a trial is warranted, in which case an indictment is issued.
The material part or essence of a charge, grievance or complaint.
A machine designed to inflict capital punishment by dropping a blade onto the neck, thus quickly severing of the head from the body.
A person found guilty of a criminal charge, either as a result of an acknowledgment of it by pleading guilty, or as a result of a trial at which the accused was found guilty of the offence changed.
Habeas Corpus
Latin: a court petition which orders that a person being detained be produced before a judge for a hearing to decide whether the detention is lawful.
A regular response to a specific situation.
Habitual Offender
A person who is convicted and sentenced for crimes over a period of time and even after serving sentences of incarceration, demonstrates a propensity towards future criminal conduct.
Halfway House
A temporary group home designed to facilitate the reentry into society of prison inmates.
Unsolicited words or conduct which tend to annoy, alarm or abuse another person.
Hate Crime
The subtly or overt victimization of an individual, for no reason other than skin color, religion, parental heritage, disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.
A person who goes about carrying goods from house to house to endeavour to sell them there.
Unofficial punishment administered by peers.
Heat of Passion
A sudden uncontrollable state of mind provoked by a blow or some other personal provocation.
Hells Angels Motorcycle Club
A distinct outlaw motorcycle gang with significant operations in North America.
A historic criminal offence comprised of the act of public denial of Christian doctrines.
High Treason
Treason as against the monarch, king or queen, or his/her government.
Muslim law: organized crime such as highway robbery.
Hodge's Case
A rule limiting the use of circumstantial evidence in the trial of a criminal offence.
Home Invasion
A break and enter of occupied residential premises with forced confinement, assault or battery of occupants.
The act or omission of one human being, which ends the life of another.
Honest Services Doctrine
(USA) A judicially developed criminal offence of bribes or kickbacks which seek or in fact deprive another a right to honest services.
Hostis Humani Generis
Latin: the enemy of mankind.
House Arrest
The judicial obligation upon an individual that she/he be forbidden to leave his or her place of residence except for limited, specified circumstances.
Muslim law: divine punishments; the category of crimes most egregious and therefore most severely punished.
Hue and Cry
A community fugitive-containment strategy of medieval England where a yell went up denouncing a crime, and all within earshot took up the chase.
Human Trafficking
The transportation or commercial exchange of an individual by coercion or deception for the purpose of exploitation.
Hung Jury
A jury which is unable to arrive at a required unanimous or near unanimous verdict.
Husband-Wife Privilege
A special right that married persons have to keep communications between them secret and even inaccessible to a court of law.
Hybrid Offence
A criminal offence for which the prosecutor has the option of charging as an offence punishable by summary conviction or as an indictable offence.
Identity Theft
The wrongful taking or using another person's identifying information for the purpose of fraud or other criminal activity.
Ignorance of the Law
A mistake of law in relation to a person's rights or responsibilities.
Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat
Latin: ignorance of the law is no excuse.
An exemption that a person enjoys from the normal operation of the law such as a legal duty or liability, either criminal or civil.
A deterioration of an individual’s judgment and decrease in his or her’s physical ability. Used primarily in criminal law; driving under the influence of alcohol or disability law in regards to a person’s physical or mental impairment.
Also, "empanel"; the official call to duty of a jury, usually as called by the clerk of the Court in which the jury is to act, and just before the jurors are sworn in.
In Absentia
Latin: in the absence of.
The crime of sexual contact with a blood relative usually including a parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild.
Inchoate Offence
Acts which are criminal even though they precede harmful conduct.
In Defense of Life
A justification for self-defense.
Independent Source Doctrine
(USA) Evidence initially discovered during an unlawful search, but later obtained independently through activities untainted by the illegality, may be admitted into evidence
Indictable Offence
An offence which the government can opt to cause trial by a more formal process than by summary process.
The formal document by which the state sets out the claim that a person has committed a crime.
Ineffective Assistance
In USA constitutional law, grounds for reversing a criminal law judicial determination where relevant legal advice was deficient and prejudicial.
Murder of an infant soon after its birth.
Canada: the charging document in a criminal prosecution.
Disorder which impairs the human mind and prevents distinguishing between actions that are right or wrong.
Insider Trading
Participation by corporate officers, directors or employees in the trade of a stock based on confidential or privileged corporate information, knowing that information to be confidential, and seeking thereby to acquire profits or avoid losses on the stock market.
International Crime
Crimes which affect the peace or safety of more than one state or which are so reprehensible in nature as to justify the intervention of international agencies in the investigation and prosecution thereof.
International Criminal Law
Offences made criminal in international law and related matters such as jurisdiction, courts and tribunals.
Investigative Detention
The brief detention of an individual by a police officer for investigative purposes.
Involuntary Manslaughter
A criminal offence contingent on language in any given jurisdiction but, generally, the unlawful killing of a human being without malice in the commission of an unlawful act or in the commission of an act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection.
Issue Estoppel
The proposal that an argument is moot as it has been previously decided, distinctly put in issue in an earlier proceeding where it was fundamental to the decision.
Judicial Interim Release
Pre-trial release of an individual accused of a crime; bail.
Judicial Misconduct
Conduct on the part of a judge that is prohibited and which could lead to a form of discipline.
A member of a jury; a person who has taken an oath to serve on a jury.
A group of citizens randomly selected from the general population and brought together to assist justice by deciding which version, in their opinion, constitutes 'the truth' given different evidence by opposing parties.
Jury Nullification
The extraordinary power of a jury to issue a verdict contrary to the law as applied to the proven facts.
Jury Secrecy Rule
A rule of law which prohibits the disclosure, by a member of a jury, of statements or opinions voiced during jury deliberations.
Jury Tampering
To unlawfully disrupt the independence of a jury member with a view to influencing that juror otherwise than by the production of evidence in open court.
Justice of the Peace
A judicial officer with a limited role, usually in criminal law, to perform minor judicial tasks such as authorizing search warrants and approving criminal charges.
Justifiable Homicide
The blameless killing of another human being.
An answer or defence to an allegation of wrongful conduct that the act or omission, though admittedly committed, was not wrongful in all the circumstances.
To confine a person against his or her will.
King's Bench
Originally, the common criminal court of the common law; later, the general superior court.
An impulse control disorder characterized by the inability to resist impulses to steal objects.
Knock and Announce Rule
A standard requirement of police officers executing a search warrant that they first knock on the main entry door and announce the purpose of their attendance.
Knock and Talk
An investigation technique involving a law enforcement officer attending at the door of certain premises to speak with the occupants, or asking for consent to search the premises.
Acting voluntarily and intentionally and not because of mistake or accident.
Lap Dancing
The intentional rubbing against men to please them in a sexual way.
A criminal offence now more commonly referred to as theft, covering the unlawful or fraudulent removal of another's property without the owner's consent.
Lay by the Heels
To commit to prison.
Legal Custody
The lawful entitlement to make decisions in regards to another, such as a parent or a prison warden.
Letters of Exculpation
Scots law: a subpoena, in the form of a warrant, to a material witness in a criminal matter to testify at trial.
Independent existence as an animate being.
To waste time; to be idle.
Long-Term Offender
A convicted person for whom there is a substantial risk of re-offending.
Lord Advocate
Scottish law: head of public prosecutions and the investigation of deaths.
An offer in which prizes and high value items are awarded by random chance to participants who buy lottery tickets.
An individual who, though once of sound mind, can no longer manage his person or his affairs.
A strong desire for sexual relations.
Machine Gun
A firearm which can shoot more than one shot without having to be reloaded and by single function of the trigger.
Maiden Assize
Historically, a criminal court hearing at which no prisoner was sentenced to death, but more recently, a court hearing at which no prisoner was in jail awaiting trial on a criminal charge.
The taking of a person into friendly custody.
Malicious Prosecution
An intentional tort which redresses losses flowing from an unjustified prosecution.
Malum in se
Latin: something wrong in itself.
Malum prohibitum
Latin: wrong because prohibited.
Unlawful killing of a human being without malice or deliberation.
Violently depriving another person of a body part to render less effective that person's defence of self.
McMorris Evidence
Evidence of past violence by a victim of crime.
Mea Culpa
Latin: I am guilty.
Mens Rea
Latin for guilty mind; guilty knowledge or intention to commit a prohibited act.
A young person not yet of the age of majority.
Miranda Warning
A requirement that police officers, in the U.S.A., before any questioning is so begun, warn suspects upon arrest that they have the right to remain silent, that any statement that they make could be used against them in a court of law, that they have the right to contact a lawyer and that if they cannot afford a lawyer, that one will be provided.
Miscarriage of Justice
A substantial wrong which occurs during a trial which so infects the proceedings as to merit quashing the result on appeal.
Interracial cohabitation or marriage.
(USA) A crime of lesser seriousness than a felony where the punishment might be a fine or prison for less than one year.
Offence in aid of the most seriously punished crimes in the ancient common law of England.
A partial or complete trial which is found to be null and void and of no effect because of some irregularity.
Mitigating Circumstances
Facts that, while not negating a wrongful action, tend to show that the defendant may have had some grounds for acting the way he/she did.
M'Naghten Rules
A defence to criminal law liability developed in England; if, at the time of the offence, the accused had a disease of the mind such that he was unable to know that his act was wrong.
Modus Operandi
Latin: method of operation.
Money Laundering
The conversion or transfer of money obtained by crime for the purposes of frustrating law enforcement.
A commercial advantage enjoyed by only one or a select few companies in which only those companies can trade in a certain area.
Moral Turpitude
An act of baseness or depravity contrary to accepted moral standards.
Motion to Strike
A motion put to the Court to strike a pleading or evidence of a witness.
Munchausen's Syndrome
An acute but fabricated illness supported by a dramatic history of some plausibility.
Intentional homicide (the taking of another person’s life), without legal justification or provocation.
Murder Gene
A DNA genetic variant that, some scientists propose, predisposes an individual to berserk violence.
To render a thing imperfect by cutting off or destroying a part.
Mutual Combat
A fight into which both parties enter willingly, or in which two persons, upon a sudden quarrel, and in hot blood, mutually fight upon equal terms.
A defense or excuse from conviction of a crime committed.
A psychosexual disorder, sexual relations with a corpse.
Nemo Debet Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadem Causa
Latin: No-one shall be tried or punished twice in regards to the same event.
Nolo Contendere
Latin: I will not defend.
Material that is morally corruptive.
Obstructing Justice
An act which tends to impede or thwart the administration of justice.
Obstruction of Justice
An act which tends to impede or thwart the administration of justice.
Conduct prohibited and punishable by the State.
Officially Induced Error
A mistake of law caused by reliance upon erroneous legal advice obtained from an appropriate official.
Omne Majus Continet In Se Minus
Latin: The greater contains the less.
Latin: the burden.
Opening Statement
A lawyer or litigant's initial remarks at trial, to the finder of fact, either a judge or jury, setting out their road-map or case theory.
Outlaw Motorcycle Gang
A group of motorcycle owners who band together and who agree to disobey society’s laws.
To beg for money in a public place.
A pardon is a government decision to allow a person who has been convicted of a crime, to be free and absolved of that conviction, as if never convicted.
A conditional release from incarceration during which a prisoner promises to heed certain conditions (usually set by a parole board) and submit to the supervision of a parole officer.
Killing one's father or another a family member or close relative.
The material facts which a party to litigation alleges are true and which that party will seek to prove at trial in support of the relief claimed.
Peace Bond
A recognizance entered into by an individual in which he commits himself to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and other conditions, for a specified period of time.
Peace Officer
Law enforcement officer; person empowered to make arrests; police officer.
Peccatum illud horribile, inter Christianos non nominandum
Latin: that horrible crime not to be named among Christians.
A sexual abuse crime wherein an adult male grooms and sexually assaults an adolescent male outside of his family.
A medical condition causing a sexual preference for young children.
Penal Code
A statute which lists and defines prohibited conduct (crimes) and the punishments associated with each.
Penile Plethysmograph
A law investigation device which purports to measures the reaction of a target's penis to visual stimuli.
Pen Register
An electronic surveillance device which attaches to a phone line and which registers every number dialed from a specific telephone.
Compulsory service in payment of a debt.
Peremptory Challenge
Also "preemptory challenge"; a party's challenge of a prospective juror for which no reason or justification need be given.
The intentional violation of a promise or of some trust, such as misusing a flag of truce during war in order to facilitate an attack.
Per Infortunium
Latin: by misadventure.
An intentional lie given while under oath or in a sworn affidavit.
Perverse Verdict
A decision of a jury which runs altogether contrary to the evidence presented before it.
Petite Policy
A policy of the US Justice Department that following a state prosecution there should be no federal prosecution for the same transaction in the absence of compelling federal interests.
Petit Treason
Treason by a servant against his master or a wife against her husband
Petty Offense
A minor crime and for which the punishment is usually just a small fine or short term of imprisonment.
Physical Control
Having the means to initiate any movement of, and in close proximity to the operating controls of a vehicle.
Physical Force
Power, violence, or pressure directed against an individual consisting in a physical act.
A medieval punishment and restraining device made of moveable and adjustable boards through which a prisoner's head or limbs were pinned.
Pinkerton Doctine
(USA) The conviction of a conspirator for criminal offenses committed by a co-conspirator that are within the scope of the conspiracy or in furtherance of it, and are reasonably foreseeable as a necessary or natural consequence of the conspiracy.
Piracy Jure Gentium
Piracy according to the law of nations.
Piracy (Maritime Law)
Violence or depredation on the high seas or in the air, for private ends, using aircraft or vessels.
A person who engages in piracy.
Pit Bull
Dogs which exhibit appearance and physical characteristics of any of a pit bull terrier or Staffordshire, American or American Staffordshire bull terrier.
Plain Error
Limited grounds upon which an appeal alleging deficient jury instructions will be allowed, which were not objected to at the time they were presented to the jury: the error must be so obvious or serious that the public reputation and integrity of the judicial proceeding is impaired.
Plain Feel Doctrine
If, during a lawful pat-down search, an officer feels an object whose mass makes it immediately identifiable as contraband, that officer can seize the item.
Plain View Doctrine
The authority for law enforcement officers, otherwise lawfully upon premises gut not armed with a search warrant, to seize any item within their line of sight and reasonably believed to be related to the commission of a crime
Plea Bargaining
Negotiations during a criminal trial in which the accused agrees to admit to a smaller crime in exchange for which the prosecutor agrees to ask for a more lenient sentence than would have been recommended if the original charge had of been proceeded with.
Casual recreational shooting, often at cans and other items found lying around.
To kill or take an animal or fish from the property of another.
Police Interrogation
Questioning put to an accused by the police with the purpose of eliciting a statement.
Police Power
A local or regional government's authority to enforce within its limits, laws, ordinances or regulations.
The having of more than one husband by a wife.
Being married to multiple wives or husbands at the same time.
A lie-detector machine.
One man with several wives.
The portrayal of sexual acts solely for the purpose of sexual arousal.
Posse Comitatus
The emergency roundup of a group of civilians or soldiers to address a significant civil law enforcement crisis.
An offence initially to prefer the Pope or his authority as against the King of England or Parliament, but later included a wide assortment of offenses against the King and always leading to serious penalties.
Preemptory Challenge
Also "peremptory challenge"; a party's challenge of a prospective juror for which no reason or justification need be given.
Preliminary Inquiry
Canada: An initial inquiry that occurs at the demand of an accused wherein a judge screens the proposed criminal charge against the available evidence.
Specific intent to commit a crime for some period of time, however short, before the actual crime.
Pre-Sentence Report
A report filed with the court prior to sentencing covering the offender's personal and family history and present environment.
Press Gang
A small group of men who abducted a man for the purposes of pressing him into some form of service, often aboard a ship.
Presumption of Innocence
A legal presumption that benefits a defendant in a criminal case and which results in acquittal in the event that the prosecutor does not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prison Mailbox Rule
(USA) A rule of procedure which deems that any court document mailed by a self-represented inmate is deemed filed on the date of delivery to prison authorities for mailing.
A punishment given out as part of a sentence which means that instead of jailing a person convicted of a crime, a judge will order that the person reports to a probation officer regularly and according to a set schedule.
Procurator Fiscal
Scots law: the prosecutor who acts on behalf of the state in criminal prosecutions.
Vulgar, crude, grossly offensive or insulting language.
A legal restriction against the use of something or against certain conduct.
To bring or administer judicial proceedings.
Prosecutorial Discretion
Discretionary powers exercised by the government's prosecution service such as whether to prosecute charge recommended by police, to stay an ongoing proceeding, plea bargaining, or the taking over of a private prosecution.
An individual who offers lewd sexual acts for the gratification of a customer and in exchange for money.
Conduct that would cause a reasonable person to lose self control.
An individual with an abnormal personality charterised by irresponsibility, lack of emotional control, impulsiveness resulting in unstable adaptations to environment.
Public Defender
An attorney in the USA paid for by the state but representing an indigent individual in a criminal matter.
Queen's Bench
Originally, the common criminal court of the common law; later, the general superior court.
Muslim law: the right of a person who has suffered corporal injuries by the act of another, to inflict, or have inflicted similar injuries upon the aggressor.
Qui Jure Suo Utitur Neminem Facit Injuriam
Latin: he who exercises his legal rights harms no one.
Qui Tam
Latin: who as well.
Racial Pollution
A prohibition of sexual relations with persons outside of defined races.
Racial Profiling
Targeting of individual members of a particular racial group, on the basis of the supposed propensity of the entire group.
A medieval form of punishment or confession extractor in which the subject was affixed to a wooden platform and separate ropes attached to each of his four limbs, which were then pulled apart by a system of pulleys.
The interfering with trade or commerce by violence or threats.
Money paid to have a kidnapped person released.
Sex with a woman, other than the perpetrator's wife, without her consent.
Latin: to take away forcefully.
Reasonable Doubt
A threshold of proof in criminal cases in most modern criminal law systems which requires the trier of fact to be sure, not certain, of the accused's guilt, before convicting.
An ancient judicial position in the legal history of England and Wales, now mostly a part-time judicial appointment given to practising barristers or solicitors in England and Wales.
An informer; a person who has supplied the facts required for a criminal prosecution or a civil suit, or who institutes legal action on behalf of the government.
Latin: an action that has been put over, deferred to a later time.
Taking and setting at liberty, against the law, either goods or imprisoned persons.
Res Gestae
Latin: things done.
Restorative Justice
An alternate form of dealing with crime by engaging both offender and victim in post-offence mediation.
Right of Hot Pursuit
The right of a state to chase and arrest a vessel which has committed an offense within its waters.
Three or more persons who assemble and advance a purpose together, with the intent to use force if necessary, and raising alarm of a reasonable person(s).
Theft under threat or use of force.
Rule of Lenity
A rule of construction of statutes: that criminal statute ambiguities are resolved in favor of the defendant or accused.
Sabbath Breaking
Doing business on a Sunday.
Sexual arousal in the infliction opf physical or mental cruelty.
To sanction can mean to ratify or to approve but it can also mean to punish. The sanction of a crime refers to the actual punishment, usually expressed as a fine or jail term.
A place of temporary refuge and protection to avoid law enforcement.
Muslim law: theft.
Scandalizing the Court
Personal scurrilous abuse of a judge as a judge.
Latin: actual or guilty knowledge; knowingly.
A troublesome and angry woman who, by brawling and wrangling amongst her neighbours, breaks the public peace, increases discord and becomes a public nuisance.
A medieval offense; women who were verbally disputative; who incited or agitated against the public peace.
Sealing Order
A Court order that restricts access to or disclosure of any record or document filed in a proceeding.
A probing exploration for something that is concealed or hidden from the searcher.
Search Warrant
A court order that gives a police the permission to enter private property and to search for evidence of the commission of a crime, for the proceeds of crime or property that the police suspect may be used to commit a crime.
Se Defendendo
Latin: self-defence.
The speaking or publishing of words which excite public disorder or defiance of lawful authority.
A dispossession of something against the will of the possessor.
A person is not responsible for an act if the conduct is carried-out in self-defence of self or of another.
The judgment given to a person who has been convicted (i.e. found to be guilty) of a crime.
Sentencing Circle
A sentencing opportunity at which an accused hopes to favourably influence the court passing sentence, by convening a conciliatory pre-sentence meeting between offender and victim.
Sequestered Jury
A jury which has been confined to a location where they can be shielded from outside distractions while their deliberations are ongoing.
The sending of digital text messages containing suggestive, provocative, or explicit sexual photographs.
Sex Trades
Those occupations in which an individual, usually women, offer their intimacy and full persons, for sexual pleasure of a client or clients,
Sex Trafficking
The coercion of an individual into, or maintained therein, prostitution.
Sexual Abuse
The tort or crime of an assault of a sexual nature.
Sexual Assault
A sexual act upon or directed to another which is unwanted and not consented to by the other.
Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
The use of a child for the purposes of pornography.
Sexual Harassment
A term used in human rights legislation and referring primarily to harassment in employment situations, related to sex or gender, which detrimentally affects the working environment.
Sharia Law
Muslim or Islamic law, both civil and criminal justice as well as regulating individual conduct both personal and moral.
Individuals empowered to ensure the security of courthouses generally and courtrooms especially, to keep prisoners secure whilst in the courthouse, to secure jurors during trials and to assist in the execution of court orders.
Sherman Antitrust Act
American federal statutes that defines and prohibits contracts or conspiracies which are designed to restrain trade.
Shock Probation
A sentencing strategy: a brief period of incarceration followed by release under supervision.
Willful concealment of unpurchased merchandise of any retail store.
Shurb Al-Khamr
Muslim law; the crime of consuming alcoholic beverages.
Similar Fact Evidence
Evidence tendered in a criminal trial to demonstrate that the accused previously engaged in the relevant prohibited activity.
The selling of miracles or the promise of some other alleged form of Divine service in exchange for money.
The judgment objectifying and passed on the sexuality of woman, often of teenage years, that her choice of revealing or tight apparel is indicative of consent if not encouragement to sexual intimacy.
Synonymous with buggery and referring to unnatural sex acts, including copulation, either between two persons of the same sex or between a person and an animal (the latter act is known as bestiality).
Special Jury
A jury drawn to certain specifications given the alleged complexities of the matter to be tried.
Special prosecutor
A private lawyer who temporarily and on a case-by-case basis only, investigates or manages the prosecution in lieu of the public prosecutor.
Specific Deterrence
Deterrence, as an objective of sentencing, which is fit to a particular offender.
Specific Intent
A state of mind that exists when the circumstances indicate the offender actively desired the prescribed criminal consequences to follow his act or failure to act.
Spousal Abuse
The physical or emotional abuse of a spouse.
Stab Wound
A bodily injury caused by a knife or other sharp or pointed instrument.
Stand Your Ground
A popularized name for the use of deadly force to repel an attack, and subsequent criminal and civil immunity.
Star Chamber
An elitist, secretive and abusive court convened from time to time by British kings from at least King Henry VII (1457-1509) to 1640.
Statutory Rape
A statutory definition of rape which allows for conviction regardless of the consent, such as with a minor.
To stop; to suspend; also known as a stay of proceedings; when a law suit is suspended either indefinitely or until the occurrence of a condition imposed by the court.
The taking of something from another without any legal right to do so.
To interrupt breathing by interference with the windpipe.
Dashing through a public area in the nude.
Strict Liability
Tort liability which is set upon the defendant without need to prove intent, negligence or fault; as long as you can prove that it was the defendant's object that caused the damage.
Strip Search
The removal of all or part of an individual's clothing so as to visually inspect private areas or undergarments.
Removal of clothing in a manner so as to arouse sexual desire.
Latin: an order of a court which requires a person to be present at a certain time and place or suffer a penalty (subpoena means, literally, under penalty).
Sudden Fight
A spontaneous altercation which occurs in the heat of passion.
Sudden Heat
Anger or terror sufficient to obscure the reason of an ordinary person, preventing deliberation.
To intentionally take one's own life.
Summary Conviction Offence
In Canada, a less serious offence than indictable offences and for which both the procedure and punishment tends to be less onerous.
In the USA, this is one of the initial documents issued in a civil suit; giving the defendant notice of the claim and an opportunity to defend it.
Superficial Wound
A scrape, bruise, discoloration, or swelling, of minimal severity.
Suppressed Evidence
The intentional non-disclosure by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused and asked for by the accused, where that evidence is material either to guilt or punishment.
A person who promises to answer for the debt or performance of another.
Superfluous allegations, especially in regards to pleadings.
Suspended Sentence
A judicial prerogative retained by a sentencing judge on a person convicted of a crime by which the full sentencing of a convicted person is suspended or deferred until some future time commensurate with the convicted person’s compliance with the terms of an interim probation order.
Muslim law: discretionary and corrective punishments for minor crimes.
Take-Down Lights
Bright police cruise lights directed at a person while shadowing the cruiser occupants.
The act of supplementing a jury otherwise incomplete.
Additional jurors summoned to complete a jury.
To interfere improperly or in violation of the law such as to tamper with a document.
Tar and Feather
The punishment of an offender by covering with hot tar and then feathers.
Tax Evasion
A prohibited or illegal act or omission which is designed to reduce a person’s tax liability.
Violence against civilians intended to intimidate a population or a government from taking or abstaining from an act.
Terry Search
A justifiable protective search for weapons, even in the absence of probable cause to arrest, where there is a suspicion that an individual is armed and dangerous.
To steal an item of property.
A menace designed to intimidate the person on whom it is directed to take some action, and which carries with it some sanction if not performed.
The intentional infliction of pain or suffering on an animal or a person and as for the latter, even if for the purpose of obtaining information such as a confession or the names of accomplices, or as a punishment for crime.
Trace Evidence
Fibers, hair and other such microscopic evidence which relates to the commission of a crime.
The selling or involvement in commercial activity of something for which commercial activity is unlawful
To aid or enlist with a state enemy or to attempt or conspire to harm the head of state, such as a king, queen or president.
The resolution of a dispute by examination of evidence submitted by opposing litigants by a tribunal or Court of law, and determination of (1) guilt (in a criminal trial) or (2) of a civil dispute of fact or law.
Universal Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction over the offender of a heinous crime that is universally condemned internationally even though neither offender nor victim may be citizens.
Unlawful Assembly
Three or more persons together holding the intent to commit a crime or to otherwise disturb the peace.
Excessive or illegal interest rate.
Utile Per Inutile Non Vitiatur
Latin: That which is useful is not vitiated by that which is useless.
Uzi Machine Gun
A sub-machine gun using a blowback mechanism with a bolt that wraps around the end of the barrel, and empty cases ejected through slots in the body.
A criminal offence of being intentionally unemployed and thereby neglecting to maintain himself or his family.
A tramp or homeless person.
Location or proposed district of a judicial hearing.
French: truth told; the decision of a jury.
Vetrovec Warning
Canada: a warning given by a judge to a jury in regards to the frailities of the evidence tendered by certain witnesses.
The displacement of a judge and jury to the location of events which are being described at trial.
Voir Dire
A mini-hearing held during a trial on the eligibility of prospective jurors or the admissibility of contested evidence.
The secret viewing of another person in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, for the purposes of the viewer's sexual arousal
Waiver By Conduct
The abandonment of a right implied from a person's conduct.
War Crimes
Excessive brutality during war, in contravention of an international treaty or convention.
A document giving a person legal authority to do a certain thing.
Washerwoman Syndrome
Changes in the skin condition that result from being immersed in water.
A criminal investigation interrogation technique whereby a person suspected of having or withholding relevant information is blindfolded and bound on their back, sometimes with the face covered with porous or nonporous material, and subjected to water poured over their mouth and nose such as to simulate drowning and to thus, under duress, elicit information.
An instrument of combat; something to fight with - used or designed to injure or kill.
Weapon of Mass Destruction
Device designed to kill humans through the use of atomic or nuclear energy or the release of chemicals, poisons, biological agents or radioactivity.
Acting voluntarily, deliberately and intentionally.
An offense known to American criminal law which offers to the district attorney the option of charging as a misdemeanor or as a felony.
Wrongful Conviction
A conviction of a person accused of a crime which, in the result of subsequent investigation, proves erroneous.
Year-and-a-day Rule
A common law rule precluding prosecution for murder where the victim died a year and a day, or later, after the infliction of the ultimately fatal wounds.
Young Offender
Young persons who, in many states, are treated differently than adult criminals and are tried in special youth courts.

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