Glossary

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18(b) ATTORNEY: See Assigned Counsel Plan.

A

ACCUSATORY INSTRUMENT: A written accusation filed with the court charging a defendant with one or more offenses.

ACCUSED: A person charged with a crime

ACD: See Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal.

ACQUITTAL: A legal determination, usually by jury verdict, that an accused person is not guilty of a charge.

ADA: See Assistant District Attorney.

ADJOURNMENT: A postponement of a case.

ADJOURNMENT IN CONTEMPLATION OF DISMISSAL (ACD): A postponement of a case that will result in the dismissal of the case if the defendant complies with conditions established by the court for a set period of time. An ACD case may be restored to the court's calendar if the defendant commits any new crimes.

ADJUDICATE: To hear and resolve a case.

AFFIDAVIT: A written statement of facts submitted in the course of a legal proceeding. See also, Corroborating Affidavit.

AFFIANT: One who makes an affidavit

AFFIRM: To confirm or uphold a conviction which had been appealed.

ALIBI: A defense to a criminal action that one was not present at the scene of a crime at the time of its commission.

ALL-PURPOSE PART (AP PART): The Court Part in which various proceedings occur between arraignment and trial. Motions and pleas are handled in the part. See also, Arraignment Part, Court Part, Jury Part.

ALTERNATE JUROR: An individual selected to act in the place of a juror if the juror become unavailable to serve during the trial.

AP PART: See All-Purpose Part.

APPEAL: A request by a defendant who has been convicted to have a higher court review the judgment, decision, or order of a lower court and set it aside (reverse it) or modify it; also, the judicial proceedings or steps in judicial proceedings resulting from such a request. See also, Notice of Appeal.

ARRAIGNMENT: The first court appearance for a person charged with a crime, during which the defendant is brought before a judge, informed of the charges pending against him, and enters a plea. Also, the judge decides whether or not to set bail.

ARRAIGNMENT PART: The Court Part in which defendants are arraigned. Defendants who are later indicted by a Grand Jury will be arraigned again in Supreme Court. See also, All Purpose Part, Court Part, Jury Part.

ARREST: The taking of a person into custody by a law enforcement officer for the purpose of charging the person with a criminal offense. An officer may arrest an individual for a felony or misdemeanor not committed in the officer's presence or without a warrant if there is reasonable cause to believe that the individual being arrested committed the crime. If an individual is being arrested in his home, the police must have an arrest warrant, unless the officer has reasonable cause to believe that a family offense has occurred or other exigent or emergency circumstances exist.

ARREST WARRANT: A court order directing a law enforcement officer to arrest and bring to court a particular individual.

ASSIGNED COUNSEL: An attorney assigned by a judge to represent a defendant who cannot afford to hire legal counsel.

ASSIGNED COUNSEL PLAN: A statute which provides free legal representation by a private lawyer who is appointed to indigent criminal defendants where there is no Legal Aid Society or public defender¹s office, or where these agencies are unable to provide representation because of a conflict of interest or other policy decisions. It is also known as "18-B", after Article 18(b) of the County Law, which authorizes the appointment and payment of private attorneys with county monies in criminal cases.

ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY (ADA): A lawyer from the county District Attorney's office who prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of the people of the State of New York.

ATTORNEY: A person trained in the law, admitted to practice before the bar of a given jurisdiction, and authorized to advise, represent, and act for other persons in legal proceedings.

B

BAIL: Refers to "cash bail" or a "bail bond". Cash bail means a sum of money, set by the court, posted by the defendant or any other person, upon the condition that the money will be forfeited to the state if the defendant does not comply with the directions of the court requiring his attendance at future court proceedings. Bail bond means guarantee to the court by a recognized insurance company that while the defendant is at liberty as a result of the posting of the bail bond, he will appear in court in the criminal action whenever his attendance is required. If the defendant fails to appear as required, the insurance company will pay to the Court the specified sum of money designated by the court which set the bail.

BAIL BONDSMAN: An individual who posts a bond for a defendant in the amount required for bail in exchange for a fee. The defendant or someone on his behalf must provide the bondsman with a fee and property or cash which represents a portion of the bail set by the judge.

BENCH TRIAL: A trial conducted with the judge serving as the finder of fact in place of a jury. In a bench trial, the judge decides the questions of fact as well as the questions of law. See also, Jury Trial.

BENCH WARRANT: An order of a judge directing that law enforcement officers arrest and bring the individual named therein before the court, usually one who has failed to obey a court order or a notice to appear.

BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT: The burden of proof that the prosecutor must meet at trial in proving that a person is guilty of an offense. See also, Reasonable Doubt.

BOARD OF PAROLE: A 19-member body who decides which of the inmates serving indeterminate terms of imprisonment in New York State correctional facilities should be granted discretionary release to the community. The Board has the authority to impose whatever conditions it deems appropriate for a particular offender. New York State Division of Parole - Board of Parole See also, Division of Parole, Parole Officer.

BOOKING: The processing of an accused person by a law enforcement agency or other criminal justice agency following an arrest.

BRADY MATERIAL: Exculpatory or impeaching information that is material to the guilt or punishment of a defendant.

BRIEF: A written statement of the legal and factual arguments in a case.

BURDEN OF PROOF: The obligation of affirmatively proving a fact in issue between the parties, as in a criminal case the burden of proof is on the prosecution. See also, Standard of Proof.

C

CALENDAR PART: A court part to which a case is sent after arraignment, but before trial. Motions and pleas are heard in this part.

CENTRAL BOOKING: A Police Department office where fingerprints and photographs are taken after an arrest.

CERTIFICATE OF DISPOSITION: An official court document that indicates the current status of a case or its final disposition.

CERTIFICATE OF GOOD CONDUCT: A certificate from the Board of Parole which evidences that a person has been rehabilitated and that his conviction should not result in his being rejected for employment or refused a license unless there is other evidence that he is not qualified. A person can apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct if he has been convicted of two or more felonies and any number of misdemeanors. Though a Certificate of Good Conduct can restore some of the rights lost as a result of a conviction (statutory bars to employment or occupational licenses, the right to serve on a jury), it is not a pardon and it does not erase the record of a conviction. See also, Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities.

CERTIFICATE OF RELIEF FROM CIVIL DISABILITIES: A certificate from a court or the Board of Parole which evidences that a person has been rehabilitated and that his conviction should not result in his being rejected for employment or refused a license unless there is other evidence that he is not qualified. A person can apply for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities if he has been convicted of no more than one felony and any number of misdemeanors. Though a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities can restore some of the rights lost as a result of a conviction, it is not a pardon and it does not erase the record of a conviction. See also, Certificate of Good Conduct.

CHARGE: The accusation made against a defendant.

CHALLENGE: A party's request that a judge disqualify a potential juror from becoming a juror on a particular case.

CHALLENGE FOR CAUSE: A motion to excuse a juror from serving on a jury that is supported by a specified reason, such as bias or prejudice. See also, Peremptory Challenge.

CJA: See Criminal Justice Agency.

COMPLAINANT: An alleged victim of a crime who makes a complaint or testifies before the grand jury accusing someone of committing a criminal act.

COMPLAINT: The legal instrument filed by the State which initiates a criminal action. The complaint states the alleged crime of the defendant in legal language. In Criminal Court (misdemeanor cases), the complaint serves as the formal accusatory instrument. In Supreme Court (felony cases), the complaint serves as a preliminary accusatory instrument until a Grand Jury indictment is obtained.

COMPLAINT ROOM: See ECAB.

CONCURRENT SENTENCE: Two or more sentences imposed upon a defendant that a judge orders to run at the same time. See also, Consecutive Sentence.

CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE: A sentence imposed by a judge which mandates the defendant's compliance with certain conditions set by the court such as leading a law-abiding life, doing community service, or participating in a drug treatment program. See also, Unconditional Discharge.

CONSECUTIVE SENTENCE: Two or more sentences imposed upon a defendant which the judge orders to run one after the other. See also, Concurrent Sentence.

CONVICTION: The judgment of a court finding the defendant guilty of an offense by trial or plea.

CORROBORATING AFFIDAVIT: An affidavit provided by a witness that confirms the witness¹ assertions as stated in the criminal complaint (the legal instrument which initiates a criminal action). A corroborating affidavit converts a complaint into an information, which is then ready to proceed through the criminal justice process.

COURT CLERK: A court employee who assists the judge in record-keeping and other clerical duties and supervises the personnel assigned to the courtroom.

COURT OF APPEALS: The highest court in New York State, located in Albany, New York. New York State Court of Appeals

COURT OFFICER: A court employee who provides court security, assists the clerk of the court with clerical duties, maintains order in the courtroom, and transports defendants from holding cells to the courtroom.

COURT PART: The courtroom in which a judge presides over cases. See also, All Purpose Part, Arraignment Part, Jury Part.

COURT REPORTER: A court employee who creates and keeps a verbatim record of all court proceedings using a stenotype machine and prepares transcripts of the proceedings upon request.

CPL: See Criminal Procedure Law.

CRIME VICTIM ASSISTANCE FEE: A fee imposed by New York State upon a defendant upon conviction: $25 for a felony, misdemeanor, or violation. See also, DNA Databank Fee, Mandatory Surcharge, Sex Offender Registration Fee.

CRIMINAL COURT: The court in which misdemeanor and violation cases are handled.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGENCY (CJA): A New York City agency that interviews defendants after arrest and makes recommendations concerning bail. New York City Criminal Justice Agency

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW (CPL): A set of laws that specifies the procedures to be followed in criminal cases in New York State.

CROSS-EXAMINATION: The questioning of a witness presented by the opposing party at trial. See also, Direct Examination.

CUSTODY: The detention of an accused or convicted person.

D

DAT: See Desk Appearance Ticket.

DCJS: See Division of Criminal Justice Services.

DDP: See Drinking Driver Program.

DECLINE TO PROSECUTE (DP): In some cases, the prosecutor may decide not to proceed against someone arrested, in which case the prosecutor declines to prosecute the case. A prosecutor may decline to prosecute for a number of reasons, such as, if there is insufficient evidence or if further investigation is needed.

DEFENDANT: The person formally accused of accused of committing a criminal offense.

DEFENSE: Evidence or arguments presented on behalf of a person accused of a criminal offense.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The attorney who represents the defendant in a criminal case. The defense attorney may be assigned by the judge at no charge to the defendant if the defendant is indigent, or retained privately by the defendant for a fee.

DEFINITE SENTENCE: A sentence for a specific number of days (or months) up to a maximum of one year. See also, Determinate Sentence, Indeterminate Sentence, Split Sentence.

DELIBERATIONS: The process in which a jury considers, and discusses in private, the evidence presented at trial to decide if a person is guilty of charged offenses.

DESIGNATED FELONY: An act committed by a person 13, 14, or 15 years of age, which if committed by an adult, would constitute one of the following crimes: murder, kidnapping, arson, assault, manslaughter, rape, criminal sexual acts, or robbery. See also, Juvenile Offender (JO).

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION: The New York City agency in charge of all persons in detention. New York City Department of Correction

DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION: The local (county or city) agency that is responsible for the supervision of persons placed on probation in lieu of imprisonment. This department also prepares Pre-sentence Investigation Reports used by judges when determining sentences. New York City Department of Probation. See also, Pre-sentence Investigation Report, Probation.

DEPONENT: A person who testifies under oath, usually in writing.

DESK APPEARANCE TICKET (DAT): An order issued by the police that requires someone arrested to appear in Criminal Court voluntarily for arraignment on a specified day, but releases the person from custody in the meantime.

DETERMINATE SENTENCE: A sentence in excess of one year for a set number of years or half years. See also, Definite Sentence, Indeterminate Sentence, Split Sentence.

DIR: See Domestic Incident Report.

DIRECT EXAMINATION: The questioning of a witness by the lawyer who called that witness. See also, Cross Examination.

DISCOVERY: A pre-trial process by which an attorney is entitled to find out from his adversary information as to facts or documents in the adversary's possession or control.

DISMISSAL: The disposition of a case in which the charges against a defendant are removed.

DISPOSITION: The final settlement or determination of the case.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: An attorney who is the elected or appointed chief of a prosecution agency, and whose official duty is to represent the state in criminal proceedings against those accused of crimes.

DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERVICES (DCJS): The agency that is the central repository for juvenile and adult fingerprint records. Fingerprints along with arrest information are stored in the DCJS's Computerized Criminal History (CCH) database. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services

DIVISION OF PAROLE: The agency that is responsible for the community supervision and reintegration of offenders released from prison by action of the Board of Parole, by conditional release, or those sentenced directly to parole supervision. New York State Division of Parole See also, Board of Parole, Parole Officer.

DNA DATABANK FEE: A fee of $50 imposed by New York State upon a defendant upon conviction of any felony or of specified misdemeanor offenses. The defendant is also required to provide a DNA specimen for the State DNA Databank. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services - DNA Databank See also, Crime Victim Assistance Fee, Mandatory Surcharge, Sex Offender Registration Fee.

DOCKET: A schedule of pending cases.

DOCKET NUMBER: A twelve character court reference number which identifies a criminal court case. The first four digits indicate the year in which the case was filed. The fifth and sixth characters identify the county in which the case was filed (NY = New York (Manhattan); KN = Kings (Brooklyn); QN = Queens; BX = Bronx; RI = Richmond (Staten Island); CN = Midtown Community Court). The final six digits represent the sequential number of the case in a particular year.

DOMESTIC INCIDENT REPORT (DIR): A form which police are required to fill out whenever they respond to a domestic violence call. The report contains a Victim Rights Notice, the names and badge numbers of the responding officers, an explanation if an arrest is not made, and a statement by the complainant. See an example of a Domestic Incident Report. See an example of a Domestic Incident Report.

DP: See Decline to Prosecute.

DRINKING DRIVER PROGRAM: A program typically required of drunk driving offenders consisting of seven classes totaling a minimum of 15 hours which are designed to deter future violations through education of the violator. Program participants may also be referred to a private agency for additional alcohol/drug treatment. New York State Drinking Driver Program

DRUG COURT: A specialized court that hears cases involving non-violent drug offenders who are sentenced to rehabilitation programs under the supervision of this court. Drug Treatment Courts

DUNAWAY HEARING: A hearing to determine the admissibility of all evidence obtained based on an unreasonable search and seizure. See also, Huntley Hearing, Mapp Hearing, Sandoval Hearing, Wade Hearing.

E

EARLY CASE ASSESSMENT BUREAU (ECAB): The District Attorney's complaint room, where felony and misdemeanor cases are evaluated and complaints are drafted by Assistant District Attorneys.

ECAB: See Early Case Assessment Bureau.

ENHANCED SENTENCE: A sentence that provides for a higher minimum penalty than the defendant would otherwise be required to receive. State incarceration is always required. There are five categories of enhanced sentences: predicate (or second) felony, predicate (or second) violent felony, persistent felony, persistent violent felony, second child sexual assault offender. See also, Predicate Felony Offender, Predicate Violent Felony Offender, Persistent Felony Offender, Persistent Violent Felony Offender, Persistent Felony Offender.

EVIDENCE: Testimony and exhibits introduced at a hearing or a trial.

EXHIBITS: Physical evidence introduced at a hearing or trial.

F

FAMILY COURT: A court located in every county in New York State, which hears cases involving children and families including child custody and support, neglect and abuse, juvenile delinquency, family offenses (i.e. domestic violence), and paternity. New York City Family Court

FAMILY OFFENSE: One of the following acts when committed against a family member by a family member or former spouse: disorderly conduct, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, assault, attempted assault, or stalking.

FELONY: An offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed. Felonies are divided into five classes: A, B, C, D and E felonies; an A felony is the most serious, and an E felony is the least serious. The class determines the permissible sentence and prison terms in excess of one year that may, and sometimes must, be imposed. See also, Misdemeanor, Violation.

FELONY COMPLAINT: The first document filed with the court that sets out the initial charges in a felony case.

FELONY HEARING: See Preliminary Hearing.

FINE: A sentence that requires the payment of money to the court.

G

GRAND JURY: A group of citizens who hears evidence presented by prosecutors and votes whether to file charges, known as indictments, against defendants in felony cases. See also, Indictment.

H

HABEAS CORPUS: See Writ of Habeas Corpus.

HEARING: A court proceeding where testimony is given, exhibits are reviewed, and legal arguments are made, to help a judge decide an issue in a case. See also, Dunaway Hearing, Huntley Hearing, Mapp Hearing, Sandoval Hearing, Wade Hearing.

HEARSAY: Evidence based upon the reports of others, rather than on the first-hand experience of a witness.

HUNG JURY: A jury that is unable to reach a unanimous verdict, which often results in a mistrial.

HUNTLEY HEARING: A hearing to determine the voluntariness and/or the knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of constitutional rights surrounding any statement made by the defendant to a public servant, usually the police. See also, Dunaway Hearing, Mapp Hearing, Sandoval Hearing, Wade Hearing.

I

IDV: See Integrated Domestic Violence Court.

IMMUNITY: Freedom from conviction for any offense or imposition of any penalty or forfeiture concerning evidence given by a witness.

INCAPACITATED PERSON: A defendant who, as a result of mental disease of defect, lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense.

INDETERMINATE SENTENCE: A sentence that has both a minimum term that generally must be served before the inmate can be released on parole and maximum term that could be served (without regard to time off for good behavior). See also, Definite Sentence, Determinate Sentence, Split Sentence.

INDICTMENT: A document that contains the felony (and perhaps also misdemeanor) charges that were voted by the grand jury.

INDIGENT: A person found by the court to be unable to afford to hire a lawyer or otherwise meet the expense of defending a criminal matter. If the defendant is determined to be indigent, a defense counsel is appointed by the court.

INFORMATION: A verified written accusation by a person that charges the defendant with the commission of an offense. An information can provide the basis to commence prosecution.

INFRACTION: See Traffic Infraction.

INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT (IDV): A specialized court that hears all aspects of domestic violence cases. Integrated Domestic Violence Courts

INTERPRETER: Provides translation for non-English speaking witnesses and defendants.

J

JAIL: A local confinement facility which holds persons detained pending adjudication and/or persons committed after adjudication, usually those committed on sentences of a year or less. See also, Prison.

JHO: See Judicial Hearing Officer.

JO: See Juvenile Offender.

JUDICIAL HEARING OFFICER (JHO): A former or retired judge assigned to conduct pre-trial hearings and other Pre-Trial Proceedings who submits a report to the judge presiding over the case containing factual findings and legal conclusions from those proceedings. Under certain circumstances, a JHO can conduct bench trials in misdemeanor cases.

JUDGE: A public official appointed or elected to preside over sessions of courts i.e. preside over trials and hearings, decide motions, conduct arraignments, hear witnesses, examine evidence, decide legal questions that arise during proceedings, determine the outcome of cases, issue orders for the resolution of cases.

JURISDICTION: A court's power to hear and determine a case.

JURY: A group of citizens who, based on the evidence and the law presented to them, decide at trial if a defendant is guilty or not guilty of charges.

JURY CHARGE: See Jury Instructions.

JURY DELIBERATION: The process of evaluating and discussing evidence by which a jury reaches a verdict.

JURY INSTRUCTIONS: The guidelines given to the jury at the conclusion of the presentation of evidence at trial and prior to deliberation by the judge about the law that governs the case. New York State Criminal Jury Instructions

JURY PART: The Court Part in which trials occur. See also, All Purpose Part, Arraignment Part, Court Part.

JURY POOL: A group of potential jurors randomly selected from lists of registered voters, licensed drivers, state and local taxpayers, recipients of public assistance benefits, recipients of state unemployment benefits, and volunteers.

JURY TRIAL: A trial in which a jury, not the judge, determines factual issues and reaches a verdict. See also, Bench Trial.

JUVENILE DELINQUENT: A person at least 7 years of age, and younger than 16 years of age, who has committed an act which would constitute a crime if committed by an adult. Juvenile delinquency cases are handled in the Family Court.

JUVENILE OFFENDER (JO): A person who is sentenced for certain designated felony offenses that were committed when the person was thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen years old. See also, Designated Felony.

L

LAW GUARDIAN: An attorney assigned by the court to represent a juvenile in the Family Court.

LEGAL AID SOCIETY: A private non-profit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants.

M

MANDATORY SURCHARGE: A fee imposed by New York State upon a defendant upon conviction which is separate and distinct from any fine which the court may impose: $300 for a felony, $175 for a misdemeanor, and $95 for a violation. See also, Crime Victim Assistance Fee, DNA Databank Fee, Sex Offender Registration Fee.

MAPP HEARING: A hearing to determine whether the police had probable cause or the defendant's consent to conduct the search of either the defendant's person or property. The remedy sought is suppression of the physical evidence obtained. See also, Dunaway Hearing, Huntley Hearing, Sandoval Hearing, Wade Hearing.

MIDTOWN COMMUNITY COURT: A neighborhood-based arraignment court dealing primarily with low-level, quality of life offenses. Midtown Community Court

MINUTES: See Transcript.

MISDEMEANOR: An offense for which a sentence of more than fifteen days and up to one year in jail may be imposed. Misdemeanors are divided into two classes: A and B. The maximum term of imprisonment for an A misdemeanor is one year and the maximum term for a B misdemeanor is three months. See also, Felony, Violation.

MISDEMEANOR COMPLAINT: A document filed with the court that sets out the initial charges in a misdemeanor case.

MISTRIAL: A trial which has been terminated and declared invalid by the court because of some circumstance which creates a substantial and uncorrectable prejudice to the conduct of a fair trial, or which makes it impossible to continue the trial in accordance with prescribed procedures.

MOTION: A written or oral request that a court take a particular action.

N

NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT (NYPD): The municipal police force with the primary responsibility for law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City. The Department is divided into several major bureaus, each sub-divided into sections, divisions and units, and into patrol boroughs, precincts and detective squads. New York City Police Department

NEW YORK STATE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (NYSID): A unique, fingerprint-based identifier assigned to an individual by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

NOTICE OF APPEAL: A document filed with a court stating that the defendant intends to appeal the trial court's decision. See also, Appeal.

NYSID: See New York State Identification Number.

O

OFFENSE: An act for which a person may be sentenced to a fine or incarceration. There are three major classes of offenses for which a person may be prosecuted: felonies, misdemeanors, and violations (known as infractions in the Vehicle and Traffic Law). See also, Felony, Misdemeanor, Violation.

OPENING STATEMENT: A statement given by attorneys at the outset of the trial to provide the jury or judge with a preview of the case including the evidence to be presented.

ORDER OF PROTECTION: A court order requiring the defendant to stay away from a the complainant or refrain from certain conduct for a specified period of time.

P

PAROLE: The release of a person from a penal institution, prior to the expiration of the maximum period of imprisonment, conditioned upon his good behavior. (2) The release of a person from custody, without bail, during pendency of a criminal action. See also, Division of Parole.

PAROLE BOARD: See Board of Parole.

PAROLE OFFICER: An officer of the Division of Parole who works to ensure that individuals released from prison by order of the Board of Parole and by statute live and remain at liberty in the community without violating the law. See also, Board of Parole, Division of Parole.

PART: See Court Part.

PARTIAL VERDICT: A verdict in which a jury finds a defendant guilty or not guilty on some charges and has no unanimous finding on other charges.

PENAL LAW (PL): New York State's criminal laws, which consists of most offenses and the possible punishments for their commission.

PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE: An attorney's request to dismiss a potential juror without any legal reason during jury selection. Such a challenge may not be used to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender. See also, Challenge for Cause.

PERSISTENT VIOLENT FELONY OFFENDER: A defendant who was convicted of two or more violent felonies within the ten years preceding the present charge. See also, Enhanced Sentence.

PERSISTENT FELONY OFFENDER: A defendant who was convicted of two or more felonies within the ten years preceding the present charge. See also, Enhanced Sentence.

PL: See Penal Law.

PLEA: A defendant's formal answer in court to the charge contained in a complaint, information, or indictment, that he is guilty or not guilty of the offense charged.

PLEA BARGAIN: A negotiated agreement to dispose of a case on mutually acceptable terms, without a trial. Generally, the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge or to one of multiple charges in exchange for dismissal of some charges or a lesser sentence.

PRE-ARRAIGNMENT BAIL: A sum of money that an arrested person may be required to pay in order to be released from custody prior to arraignment.

PRECINCT: The City of New York is divided into smaller sections, which are patrolled by units of the police department. See also, New York City Police Department.

PREDICATE FELONY OFFENDER: A defendant who was convicted of a felony within the ten years preceding the present charge. See also, Enhanced Sentence.

PREDICATE VIOLENT FELONY OFFENDER: A defendant who was convicted of a violent felony within the ten years preceding the present charge. See also, Enhanced Sentence.

PRELIMINARY HEARING: A hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute a defendant for a felony. The prosecutor must establish reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed a felony or a lesser offense (a misdemeanor or violation).

PRELIMINARY INSTRUCTIONS: The instructions regarding trial procedures given to a jury by the judge at the start of a trial.

PRE-SENTENCE INVESTIGATION REPORT: A report concerning a defendant's background and the circumstances surrounding an offense which assists the court determine a sentence. The report is prepared by the Department of Probation at the request of the court prior to sentencing.

PRE-SENTENCE MEMORANDA: Documents prepared by the prosecutor and the defendant to assist the court determine a sentence.

PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE: A meeting between opposing attorneys to discuss the evidence and issues that will be tried. Frequently such conferences result in the case being resolved without a trial.

PRE-TRIAL MOTION: A request by either the prosecutor or the defense attorney that the court take a specific action in a defendant's case. Pre-trial motions must generally be made within forty-five days of arraignment.

PRISON: A state confinement facility which holds persons committed on sentences of longer than one year. See also, Jail.

PROBABLE CAUSE: The standard of proof that must be met for a police officer to arrest a person without a warrant. Reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed an offense exists when a person of ordinary intelligence, judgment and experience based on the facts or evidence presented believes that it is reasonably likely that a criminal offense was committed and that such person committed it.

PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING: See Dunaway Hearing.

PROBATION: A sentence granting conditional freedom as long as certain conditions of behavior are met for a specified period of time and under the supervision of the Department of Probation. See also, Department of Probation.

PROBATION DEPARTMENT: See Department of Probation.

PROBATION OFFICER: An officer of the Department of Probation who prepares pre-sentencing reports and supervises defendants placed on probation. See also, Department of Probation.

PROBATION VIOLATION: See Violation of Probation.

PROSECUTOR: See Assistant District Attorney.

R

RAP SHEET: A written record, generated by a fingerprint comparison, of an arrested person's prior criminal history (if one exists), biographical data, aliases, and prior and current bench warrants. See also, New York State Identification Number.

REASONABLE CAUSE: See Probable Cause.

REASONABLE DOUBT: An honest doubt of a defendant's guilt for which a reason exists based upon the nature and quality of the evidence. It is a doubt that a reasonable person would be likely to entertain because of the evidence that was presented or because of the lack of convincing evidence.

REBUTTAL: The evidence offered by the prosecution in response to the defendant's direct evidence.

RELEASE ON RECOGNIZANCE (ROR): The release of a defendant without bail, pending a trial or other action. See also, Parole.

REMAND: The holding in custody of a defendant without bail.

RESTITUTION: A sentence that requires the payment of money to a victim.

REVERSAL: An appellate court’s overturning a conviction or decision of a lower court resulting in the case being dismissed, or a new trial or hearing in most cases.

ROR: See Release On Recognizance.

ROSARIO MATERIAL: Any written or recorded statement by a prosecution witnesses which relates to the subject matter of the witness' testimony. Examples of Rosario Material include: a signed statement by a witness, District Attorney paperwork that contains or summarizes a witness' statement, a police officer's notes and paperwork.

S

SANDOVAL HEARING: A hearing to determine whether the prior crimes or bad acts of a defendant who testifies may be used to impeach his credibility on cross examination. See also, Dunaway Hearing, Huntley Hearing, Mapp Hearing, Wade Hearing.

SCI: See Superior Court Information.

SEARCH WARRANT: A document issued by a judicial officer which directs a law enforcement officer to conduct a search at a specific location, for specified property or persons relating to a crime, to seize the property or persons if found, and to account for the results of the search to the issuing judicial officer.

SECOND CHILD SEXUAL ASSAULT OFFENDER: A defendant accused of a felony offense for a sexual assault against a child who was convicted of a felony offense for a sexual assault against a child within the fifteen years preceding the present charge. See also, Enhanced Sentence.

SENTENCE: The punishment imposed by the court on a defendant following a conviction.

SEQUESTRATION: The separation or isolation of a jury during the deliberations.

SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT (SORA): A law that requires anyone convicted of a sex offense to register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services. Sex offenders are classified as either low risk (Level 1), moderate risk (Level 2) or high risk (Level 3). The level determines the duration and extent of the registration.

SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION FEE: A fee of $50 imposed by New York State upon a defendant upon conviction of a sex offense or sexually violent offense. See also, Crime Victim Assistance Fee, DNA Databank Fee, Mandatory Surcharge.

SORA: See Sex Offender Registration Act.

SPLIT SENTENCE: A sentence that is a combination of a jail sentence with a period of probation. See also, Definite Sentence, Determinate Sentence.

STANDARD OF PROOF: The level of proof required in a specific case, such as "beyond a reasonable doubt" in criminal cases. See also, Burden of Proof.

STENOGRAPHER: See Court Reporter.

SUMMATION: The closing argument made by an attorney at trial.

SUMMONS: An ticket requiring a defendant to appear before the court for arraignment on an underlying accusatory instrument.

SUPERIOR COURT INFORMATION (SCI): A written accusation filed by the prosecutor containing felony and perhaps also misdemeanor charges.

SUPREME COURT: In New York City, the court where cases involving felonies are heard.

SUPREME COURT CALENDAR PART: The Supreme Court Calendar Part is the part in which various proceedings (such as motions and pleas) occur between Supreme Court arraignment and trial.

SUPPRESSION HEARING: A hearing to determine whether or not the court will prohibit specific evidence from being introduced into evidence in a trial. See also, Dunaway Hearing, Huntley Hearing, Mapp Hearing, Sandoval Hearing, Wade Hearing.

SUPPRESSION ORDER: A court order that prohibits the admission of specific evidence at trial.

SUMMATION: The closing argument made to the jury before it deliberates by both the prosecution and the defense in which each side recaps the evidence in their favor. The prosecution must present a summation. The defense may make a summation.

SUMMONS: A notice requiring an individual to appear in court.

SUPERIOR COURT INFORMATION (SCI): A document containing the felony and/or misdemeanor charges against a defendant filed by the district attorney with a superior court when a defendant waives his right to a grand jury hearing.

SURCHARGE: See Mandatory Surcharge.

T

TERM: The periods during which a court conducts its business.

TESTIFY: To speak under oath.

TESTIMONY: The evidence that a competent witness gives under oath at trial, or in a deposition.

TRAFFIC INFRACTION: The evidence that a competent witness gives under oath at trial, or in a deposition.

TRANSCRIPT: The official written record of all court proceedings that is recorded by a court reporter.

TRIAL: A legal proceeding in which evidence is presented to a judge or jury who then decides whether a defendant is guilty of the charges brought against him beyond a reasonable doubt.

TRIAL COURT: The court where the evidence is first presented and considered.

TRIAL COURT PART: The court part in which trials occur.

U

UNCONDITIONAL DISCHARGE: A sentence which does not require either any incarceration or conditions.

V

VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW (VTL): A set of laws that governs the operation of vehicles upon the roadways of New York State.

VERDICT: The decision of a jury or a trial judge as to whether a person is guilty or not guilty of charged offenses, that is, whether or not the prosecutor has proven every element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT: A statement from the victim or the victim's family made during sentencing proceedings to inform the judge of the impact of the crime on the victim and the victim's family.

VIOLATION: An offense punishable by up to fifteen days in jail and/or a fine. A violation is not a crime. See also, Felony, Misdemeanor.

VIOLATION OF PROBATION (VOP): An act or failure to act by a probationer which does not conform to the conditions of his probation.

VOIR DIRE: The preliminary examination of a witness or juror to test competency for service as witness or juror. As for jury selection, in Criminal Court (misdemeanor cases), six jurors and one or two alternates are chosen. In Supreme Court (felony cases), twelve jurors and two to four alternates are chosen.

VOP: See Violation of Probation.


VTL: See Vehicle and Traffic Law

W

WADE HEARING: A hearing to determine admissibility of a police-initiated identification of the defendant made either at the time and place of the offense or on some other occasion. The issue generally is the reasonableness of police conduct and suggestiveness in conducting the identification. If the identification is found to be objectionable, the issue then becomes whether the witness has an independent source upon which to ground an in-court identification. See also, Dunaway Hearing, Huntley Hearing, Mapp Hearing, Sandoval Hearing.

WAIVE: To give up a legal right.

WAIVER OF IMMUNITY: A written document signed by a person who is a witness in a grand jury or other proceeding agreeing to waive his privilege against self-incrimination.

WAIVER OF INDICTMENT: A written document signed by the defendant agreeing to waive his right to a grand jury hearing.

WARRANT: A judicial writ authorizing a law enforcement officer to perform a specified act such as executing a search, seizure, or arrest.

WELL: The section of the court containing the tables at which the defendant, prosecutor and lawyers sit.

WITNESS: A person who testifies as to what he has seen, heard, or otherwise observed pertaining to the case.

WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS: A legal action by means of which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment. The writ directs the person detaining a prisoner to bring him before a judicial officer to determine the lawfulness of the imprisonment.

Y

YO: See Youthful Offender.

YOUTHFUL OFFENDER (YO): A person charged with a crime alleged to have been committed when he was at least 14 years old and less than 19 years old. A youthful offender has already been found guilty in a criminal court and is afforded, in the interest of justice, special treatment by a Criminal, County or Supreme Court judge to remove the stigma that often accompanies a felony conviction. A "Y.O." adjudication is not a conviction and does not disqualify a person from public employment or licensing. The youth's records are sealed.