Vocabulawry

Accused / Defendant: the person who has done the act or is accused of having done the act.

Acquit / Acquittal: decision that the accused is not guilty / innocent of the offence he was accused of.

Adjourn / Adjournment: Pause in the trial or the preliminary investigation, decided by the magistrate or the judge. It can happen if the victim or witnesses are not present or if something needs to be done before the case continues.

Charge: Accusation that a person (the accused) has done a particular act which can be classified as a criminal offence.

Convict / Conviction: decision that the accused is guilty of the offence he was charged with.

Corroboration: Confirmation of the evidence, in particular in sexual violence cases. There should be at least 2 or 3 different pieces of evidence proving the same thing because of the private nature of the crime.

Crown Court: Court where the most important cases are judged, generally in front of a jury. (eg felony)

Defence: set of facts that, if proved by the accused, can prove that he is not guilty of the offence he is charged with.

Defendant: the name of the accused during the trial, in front of the Magistrates’ Court or the High Court.

Evidence: Information that helps form a conclusion in a case, it is not always direct proof of the case but can also provide clues.

Hearing / Trial: meeting of the court (Magistrates’ or Crown Court) to decide a case.

In camera: court meeting in private, without members of the public present.

Magistrates’ Court: Local court where the less important cases are judged. (eg misdemeanour)

Offence: action which causes harm and is defined and punished by the law.

Plea: decision made by the accused at the beginning of a trial, to say if he admits he is guilty or that he is innocent. If he admits he is guilty, there will not be a trial and he will be punished and given a sentence. If he says he is not guilty, there will be a trial.

Prosecution: person who represents the state in a criminal trial, and who will present the case to the court

Sentence: punishment imposed on the accused after he is found guilty of an offence, it can be a fine or a period of imprisonment or sometimes both.

Summary trial: trial in front of the Magistrates Court, in criminal law only for minor offences.

Victim: the person who says he or she was hurt by the accused’s act.

Witness: persons the accused and the victim can ask to come to court to explain what they know about the case.

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