Adjudicatory hearing: the procedure used to determine the facts in a juvenile case; similar to an adult trial but generally closed to the public.
Aggravating factors: factors that might increase the seriousness of an offense. The presence of these factors may be considered by the judge and jury.
Aid and abet: to actively, knowingly, intentionally or purposefully assist someone in committing a crime.
Appeal: to resort to a higher court for the purpose of obtaining a review of a lower court’s order. The person who seeks such a review is called an appellant and the person against whom the appeal is filed is called the appellee.
Arraignment: a court session at which a defendant is charged and enters a plea. For a misdemeanor, this is also the defendant’s initial appearance, when the judge informs him or her of the charges and sets the bail.
Assault: to attempt to hurt someone physically in a way that makes the victim feel immediately threatened. There is no need for physical contact.
Attorney: a person who has a law degree (in most instances) and is licensed by the state to advise and represent others in legal matters.
Battery: any intentional, unlawful physical contact inflicted on one person by another without consent.
Beyond a reasonable doubt: the level of proof required to convict a person of a crime. It does not require that one be “convinced 100 percent.” It does mean, however, that there should not be any reasonable doubts as to a person’s guilt. Burden of proof: the obligation of a party to prove his or her allegations during a trial.
Complaint: the first paper filed in a civil lawsuit which
states the wrong done to the plaintiff by the defendant.
Conspiracy: an agreement between two or more individuals to commit a crime, along with an act done to begin the crime.
Contempt of court: to defy a court’s authority. If one is found or held in contempt of court, he or she may be fined, placed in jail, or both.
Convict: (n.) a person who has been found guilty of a
crime and is now in prison; (v.)to find a person guilty of a crime or wrongdoing.
Crime: an act or failure to act that violates a law for which a penalty (usually
a fine, jail or probation) is set by the state.
Damages: money awarded by the court to be paid by a person who has wronged another in a civil law action.
Defendant: the person against whom a claim is made. In a civil suit, the defendant is the person being sued; in a criminal case, the defendant is the person charged with committing a crime.< Delinquent offender: a minor who has committed an offense usually punishable by criminalprocesses. Such offenders are usually processed through the juvenile justice system.
Detention: temporary custody such as being held at the police station or in Juvenile Hall.
Disposition: the word used in the juvenile justice system when referring to the outcome of a Juvenile Court proceeding; similar to “sentencing” in adult court. District attorney: an attorney who tries to show that an accused person is guilty. In juvenile court, this attorney decides whether or not to bring the juvenile to court and recommends a disposition as well.
Drunken driving: Driving while intoxicated. In California, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. Drivers under age 21 cannot drive with a BAC of 0.01 percent.
Due process: Minors and their parents are guaranteed due process by the U.S. Constitution. This means that you will be given advance notice of all hearings and that you have a right to present your side; legal procedures must follow a set of rules and principles that are meant to guarantee justice and fair play.
Felony: a serious criminal offense punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.
Hearing: a constitutionally required formal proceeding in which the accused is given notice of charges brought against him or her, then has an opportunity to present a defense.
: the killing of another person. Homicide can be criminal, non-criminal or negligent.
Hung jury: the situation in which a jury cannot reach a unanimous decision.
Initial hearing: a preliminary examination of the validity
of a youth’s arrest, during which the state must prove that an offense
was committed and there is reasonable cause to believe the youth committed
Intent: determination to achieve a particular end by particular
Jury:: a body of men and women selected to examine certain
facts and determine truth in a legal proceeding.
Kidnapping: taking a person against his or her will.
Mandatory sentencing: laws that require courts to sentence
convicted criminals to certain prison terms.
Manslaughter: the killing of a person without malice or
premeditation, but during the commission of an illegal act.
Miranda warnings: rights that a person must be told when
arrested or taken into custody by police or other officials. These include
the right to remain silent, to contact a lawyer, and to have a free lawyer
if the person arrested cannot afford one.
Misdemeanor: a criminal offense, less serious than a felony,
punishable by a jail sentence of one year or less.
Mitigating factors: factors that may lessen the seriousness
of an offense. The presence of these factors may be considered by the judge
Murder: the unlawful killing of a person with malice
Negligence: failure to exercise the care that a reasonable
person would exercise in the same circumstances.
Parole: release from prison before the full sentence has
served, granted at the discretion of a parole board.
Penal Code: a list of criminal offenses and recommended
Preponderance of the evidence: the standard of proof generally
used in civil suits. To prevail, the party must present sufficient evidence
in court to show that his or her claims are more likely to be true than not.
This is sometimes called the burden of proof.
Probable cause: a reasonable belief, known personally
or through reliable sources, that a person has committed a crime.
Probation: a period of time when a minor is under the
supervision of a probation officer to make sure court orders against the minor
Prosecution: the process of suing someone in a civil case
or bringing someone to trial on criminal charges.
Public defender: an attorney who is paid by the county
to defend those without money who are accused of committing crimes.
Reasonable person standard: the idealized standard of
how a community expects its members to act. Based on the degree of care that
persons of ordinary prudence would exercise in particular situations.
Referee/commissioner: appointed by the juvenile court
judge. Has the same power as the judge..
Restitution: money paid to victims by the offender to
make up for harm or damage done.
Robbery: the unlawful taking of property from a person’s
immediate possession by force or threat of force.
Self-defense: the right to defend oneself with whatever
force is reasonably necessary against an actual or reasonably perceived threat
of personal harm.
Self-incrimination: giving evidence and answering questions
that would tend to subject one to criminal prosecution.
Shoplifting: a form of theft in which items are taken
from a store without payment or the intention to pay.
Status offenses: acts that are illegal if committed by
Statutes: laws enacted by legislatures.
Statute of limitations: laws that set deadlines for when
a lawsuit must be filed.
Statutory rape: an act of sexual intercourse with a minor
(under age 18) who is not the perpetrator’s spouse. A crime whether
or not the minor consents to the act.
Temporary restraining order (TRO): an order issued by
a court to prevent a change in the status quo. In interpersonal settings,
a TRO is sometimes issued by a court to prevent one person from hitting another
person or from snatching a child in a custody dispute. Temporary and may be
issued without calling together both parties to the dispute. Often, a court
will later hold a hearing to see whether the TRO should be made into a permanent