You are here: Home » Law » 150 Criminal Justice Terminology Everyone Should Know

150 Criminal Justice Terminology Everyone Should Know

Everything from Abuse to Vour Dire – the 150 criminal justice terms everyone should know and the explanations for these terms. This will increase your knowledge of crimes and about the US legal system.




  1. Parole: Release of a convict before his sentence is served
  2. Capital Punishment: Death Penalty
  3. Aggravating Circumstances: Factors that make a crime worse
  4. Mitigating Circumstances: Factors that make a crime less severe
  5. Neglected or Abused children: When kids don’t get enough care or protection from parents
  6. Juvenile Offenders: Youths who do crimes and are dealt like adults
  7. Juvenile Delinquent: Not MARK F. ABRAMS, misdemeanor or felony charged but taken to family court
  8. Intake: The process by which courts or social workers decide to refer the juvenile to juvenile court
  9. Disposition: Judge’s decision on a Juvenile case
  10. Adjudicatory Hearing: Same as adult trial, to determine the facts of a case
  11. Aftercare: Equivalent of a parole
  12. Indictment: Grand jury’s formal charge or accusation of a criminal action
  13. Tort: When a person commits a wrong
  14. Liable: Person responsible for harm
  15. Remedy: A solution, something to make up for the damages
  16. Liability: Legal responsibility for harm
  17. Intentional Wrong: When person acts with intent on harming someone
  18. Negligence: Unintentional tort, Carelessness
  19. Immune: Some people can’t be sued (Fed. Gov)
  20. Class action: Injured party files a suit together
  21. Nominal damages: To show that a defendant is wrong
  22. Punitive Damages: Designed to punish the defendant for the wrong
  23. Battery: When a person intentionally causes a harmful or offensive contact with another.
  24. Assault: When a person intentionally puts someone in fear of immediate harm.
  25. False imprisonment: Protects a person from unreasonable restraint
  26. Defamation: A person’s reputation is protected by this law
  27. Slander: Oral statements that harm reputations
  28. Libel: Written Defamation
  29. Malice: With reckless or false intent
  30. Plaintiff: The prosecutor or the accusing side
  31. Plea bargaining: A compromise in which the criminal gets a lesser crime sentence or crime “rap” in exchange for information or confessions
  32. Bail: The trust that the accused person on trial gets to be free between the trial dates
  33. Settlement: When both parties reach a compromise
  34. Probable cause: strong evidence or reasons for a police office to question or even frisk someone.
  35. Abuse: Any physical or mental torture or torment or even mal-treatment that may cause severe side effects that may impair a person for the rest of their life.
  36. Homicide: The killing of one human being by another
  37. Malice: Intent to kill or seriously harm or recklessly trying to harm other. (Hate)
  38. First-Degree Murder: Killing that is premeditated, deliberate, and done with malice.
  39. Felony Murder: killing that takes place during the commission of certain felonies such as arson, rape, robbery and burglary.
  40. Second-Degree Murder: Killing done with malice but without premeditation or deliberation.
  41. Voluntary Manslaughter: killing that would have been murder but the victim had done something that made the murderer to loose control of emotion and act rashly (reasonable person).
  42. Involuntary Manslaughter: unintentional killing resulting from conduct so reckless that it causes extreme harm to someone.
  43. Negligent Homicide: Causing of death through criminal negligence.
  44. Negligence: Failure to exercise a reasonable or ordinary amount of care in a situation that might harm someone else.
  45. Suicide: The deliberate taking of one’s own life.
  46. Assault: Attempt or threat to carry out physical violence.
  47. Battery: Unlawful physical contact inflicted to another without the other’s consent.
  48. Stalking: When person repeatedly follows or harasses another person and makes threats, causing the victim to fear bodily harm.
  49. Rape: Unlawful sexual intercourse committed by a man with a woman by force and without her consent.
  50. Statutory rape: Sexual intercourse by a male with a female who has not yet reached the age of consent.
  51. Acquaintance Rape: also called date rape, victim sexually assaulted by a friend or someone she/he knows.
  52. Jurisprudence: Study of law and legal philosophy
  53. Criminal Laws: Set out duties owned to society and regulate public conduct.
  54. Felonies: Term for prison is 1 year or more and it is serious.
  55. Misdemeanors: Less than 1 year and less serious.
  56. Civil Laws: regulate relations between individuals or groups.
  57. Civil Action: Lawsuit
  58. Defendant: Person accused of crime.
  59. Plaintiff: Person accusing the defender and have been wronged by the defender. (Civil Cases)
  60. Prosecutor: The Attorney like the DA’s office in a criminal case.
  61. Beyond a reasonable doubt: (criminal cases) If the jury has any reasonable doubts about the defendant’s guilt, then it must vote not to convict.
  62. Preponderance of the evidence: (Civil Cases) just enough evidence to find the defendant guilty; don’t need to totally prove the case.
  63. Statues: Laws
  64. Checks and balances: Keeps an eye on the governments and checks it.
  65. Veto: Refusal to approve.
  66. Judicial review: Enables court to cancel any law that might be against the constitution.
  67. Unconstitutional: Courts can declare a law to be invalid and be crossed out to be made null and void since it violates the constitution.
  68. Bill of Rights: 1st ten amendments to the constitution.
  69. Federalism: Division of power between states and the federal government.
  70. Trials: Hearing for a case.
  71. Appeals or appellate courts: the court that decides if your case can be appealed.
  72. Precedent: Setting an example for the future generations.
  73. Negotiation: When both sides give up something in an attempt to agree on an issue.
  74. Settlement: Agreement
  75. Arbitration: Like a judge, their say in a issue is a final say.
  76. Recall: Removing elected officials from office.
  77. Initiative: Lets people propose a law by petition.
  78. Referendum: Legislative act is referred to the voters for final say.
  79. Trial Courts: Listens to testimony, consider evidence and decide the facts in a dispute
  80. Parties: Sides
  81. Plaintiff: Party brining the legal action
  82. Prosecutor: the government in a criminal trial that initiates the case.
  83. Defendant: the party responding to a plaintiff or prosecution.
  84. Adversary System: The contest between both sides in which both sides try to find flaw in opponent’s proceedings and presenting their best arguments.
  85. Inquisitional System: Judge is active in questioning the witness and controlling court processes.
  86. Allegations: Unproven statements
  87. Motion: Oral Request
  88. Hung Jury: Jury cannot reach a decision.
  89. Voir Dire: screening of the jury as they are being selected for a trial.
  90. Removal for Cause: opposing attorney may request to remove a juror from the trial due to fact that the attorney determined him to be not capable of rendering a fair verdict.
  91. Peremptory challenges: Attorneys can have a juror kicked out without a cause but the number that he is allowed to kick is limited.
  92. Appeals court: 1 party presents argument asking the court to change the decision of the trial court.
  93. Error of Law: When judge makes a mistake as to the law applicability in the case.
  94. Precedent: setting an example for future generations.
  95. Dissenting opinion: Judges who does not agree with the majority decision issues another document.à States the disagreements.
  96. Concurring opinion: People with reasons different from those used to support the Majority.
  97. Petitions for certiorari: A request for the lower courts to send up its record.
  98. Litigators: lawyers called trial lawyers
  99. Bar associations: organization that licenses lawyers
  100. Retainer: Down payment on the total lawyer fee.
  101. Contingency Fee: Instead of a hourly fee or a lump sum, lawyers take percentage of the winning money but if the client loses, the lawyers don’t get paid.
  102. Privilege: That you may speak to your lawyer about the secret or confidential information about the case and the attorney can’t tell any one without your permission.
  103. Disbarred: Suspended (When lawyers violate code of conduct)
  104. Legal Malpractice: when their client sues lawyers for serious errors that result in injury or loss.
  105. Drunk Driving: Used in a general sense to refer to the legal terms driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI).
  106. Implied Consent Law: Driver agrees to submit to a BAC test in exchange for the privilege of driving.
  107. State of Mind: The guilty state of mind usually means that the crime must be done intentionally, knowingly, or willfully. What the criminal was thinking when the crime was being done.
  108. Motive: Reason why a crime or act was performed.
  109. Strict Liability: These do not need to be assessed for State of Mind. This is an act that is criminal regardless of the knowledge or intent of the person committing the act.
  110. Restitution:  Criminals has to pay back or compensate the victims of their crimes.
  111. Principal: Person who commits a crime.
  112. Accomplice: Someone who helps another person commit a crime.
  113. Accessory before the fact: A person who orders a crime or who helps the principal commit the crime but is not present at the crime scene (example. Underworld leader who hires a professional killer).
  114. Accessory after the fact: A person who knows a crime has been committed but helps the criminal to avoid capture or escape.
  115. Crime of Omission: When he or she fails to perform an act required by a criminal law, if he or she physically able to perform the act required act.
  116. Solicitation: When a person urges or tells another person to commit a crime.
  117. Attempt: A failed attempt to do a crime is a crime.
  118. Conspiracy: An agreement between 2 or more people to commit a crime.
  119. Homicide: The killing of one human being by another
  120. Malice: Intent to kill or seriously harm or recklessly trying to harm other. (Hate)
  121. First-Degree Murder: Killing that is premeditated, deliberate, and done with malice.
  122. Felony Murder: killing that takes place during the commission of certain felonies such as arson, rape, robbery and burglary.
  123. Second-Degree Murder: Killing done with malice but without premeditation or deliberation.
  124. Voluntary Manslaughter: killing that would have been murder but the victim had done something that made the murderer to loose control of emotion and act rashly (reasonable person).
  125. Involuntary Manslaughter: unintentional killing resulting from conduct so reckless that it causes extreme harm to someone.
  126. Negligent Homicide: Causing of death through criminal negligence.
  127. Negligence: Failure to exercise a reasonable or ordinary amount of care in a situation that might harm someone else.
  128. Suicide: The deliberate taking of one’s own life.
  129. Assault: Attempt or threat to carry out physical violence.
  130. Battery: Unlawful physical contact inflicted to another without the other’s consent.
  131. Stalking: When person repeatedly follows or harasses another person and makes threats, causing the victim to fear bodily harm.
  132. Rape: Unlawful sexual intercourse committed by a man with a woman by force and without her consent.
  133. Statutory rape: Sexual intercourse by a male with a female who has not yet reached the age of consent.
  134. Acquaintance Rape: also called date rape, victim sexually assaulted by a friend or someone she/he knows.
  135. Arson: setting property on fire
  136. Vandalism: Destroying property that is not yours. Malicious Mischief.
  137. Robbery: Forcefully or by threat taking someone else property.
  138. Embezzlement: Stealing funds, property or $ with which you where entrusted with.
  139. Larceny: unlawful taking and carrying away of the property of another with intent to steal it.
  140. Shoplifting: Taking items from a shop without any intent to pay.
  141. Concealment: Crime for attempted shoplifting.
  142. Extortion: Blackmail, use of threats to obtain property from another.
  143. Burglary: Breaking into a house or compound of another with intent to commit a crime inside the dwelling.
  144. Forgery: Person falsely makes or alters writing or a document with intent to defraud.
  145. Uttering: Offering to someone as genuine a document known to be fake. (Such as a Check).
  146. Receiving stolen property: with knowledge that a property is stolen but you take it anyway. (Even if you don’t know but the property that is given to you may look stolen and you take it, then you committed a crime.)
  147. Unauthorized use of a vehicle: If a person takes a vehicle but for temporary time period.
  148. Carjacking: Person uses force or intimidation to steal a car from a driver.
  149. Hackers: people who use computers to commit a crime or get into places where they are not supposed to be for a challenge.
  150. Corporal Punishment: Involving striking the juvenile’s body or long prison terms.
12
Liked it
User Comments
  1. LIVING BY GRACE

    On December 4, 2008 at 10:08 pm


    This is a fantastic list of criminal justice terms. You never know when this list will become very useful. I am bookmarking this article for safekeeping.

    God Bless You.

    Nelson Doyle

  2. francesbui@yahoo.com

    On March 14, 2009 at 7:00 pm


    I would like to know if this is free or I have to pay if I subscribe it. Thank you

  3. david g.

    On June 29, 2009 at 6:05 pm


    i didn’t see “juris prudence” on the list. or “in loco parentis” or “perjury”

  4. Rachael G

    On December 8, 2011 at 6:28 pm


    Maybe you should look at your list of 150 terms because there are a lot of duplicates. You obviously did not do your homework on this and just did the copy and paste instead of doing something on your own. Good job, you look like a slob.

  5. Matt

    On December 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm


    I actually recognize this list. I remember doing something similar in High School for Criminal Justice class. Looks like he posted in homework assignment online but still a very good list of words to know.

Post Comment
Powered by Powered by Triond
-->