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Glossary of Terms

Acquitted – When the magistrate, judge or jury find that a person is not guilty of the crime.

Accused/Defendant – The person charged with committing the crime. Accused is used in the District and Supreme Court. Defendant is used in the Local Court.

Adjournment – When the case is put off to another day.

Admissible – Used to describe evidence that is allowed to be given in court.

Affirmation – A promise to tell the truth in court. Used by people who do not wish to swear on the Bible or other religious book.

Antecedents – A person's criminal record.

Arraignment – Where the details of the charge (called an indictment) are read out to the accused in court. The accused will then plead guilty or not guilty.

Bail – An agreement to turn up to court. A defendant may be given bail by the police or the court. A person on bail is allowed to go free until their case is decided at court.

Bar table – A long table near the front of the courtroom where the lawyers sit.

Bench – Where the judge or magistrate sits.

Barrister – A lawyer who specialises in court presentation. Usually wears a wig and gown in court.

Beyond reasonable doubt – The test (or standard of proof) used by a jury, judge or magistrate to decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

Brief – The evidence in written form, including the charge/s, witness statements, photographs etc. that the prosecution intends to use to prove the case.

Charge – The allegation that a person has committed a crime.

Committal hearing – A hearing of all the evidence at the local court by a magistrate who then decides if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Counsel – Another word to describe barristers acting for the defence or the prosecution. 4

Complainant – Used to describe victims of crime in court.

Conference – A meeting with the solicitor or barrister (or both) to talk about the case.

Court – The building where the case is heard. Also used to describe in general terms the judicial officer hearing the case, such as a magistrate or judge.

Court officer – A person employed to help with the running of the court.

Cross-examination – When the lawyer for the other side asks questions of the witness about the evidence they have given.

Crown prosecutor – A barrister who presents the prosecution case in court.

Defence – The defendant's case and the lawyers who present it.

Defence counsel – A barrister who presents the defendant's case in court.

Deposition – A typed copy of the evidence recorded in court.

DPP – The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. An independent body established by the State government to prosecute serious criminal offences The DPP provides a solicitor and/or Crown Prosecutor to prepare and present the case at court.

Examination-in-chief/evidence-in-chief – When the prosecutor asks the witness questions so that they can tell the court what happened.

Exhibits – All the other evidence (apart from statements from witnesses) needed to help present the case, such as documents, photographs, clothing or other items relevant to the case.

Hung jury – The situation where a jury cannot reach a unanimous (agreed by everyone) decision about the defendant's guilt or innocence.

Indictable offence – A serious criminal offence that is usually only heard in a higher court before a judge and jury (or judge alone). sometimes less serious indictable offences may be heard in a lower court with agreement.

Indictment – The formal charge for more serious cases. Used in the District and Supreme Courts.

Instructing solicitor – A solicitor who helps with the preparation of the case and helps the barrister in court.

Judge's associate – A person who helps the judge in court with documents used in the case, such as exhibits.

Legal argument – A disagreement about legal points in the case. The magistrate or judge decides the argument.

Mention – A brief hearing to sort out what will happen with the case, such as setting a date for the committal hearing or deciding bail. It is not a full hearing of the case.

Plea – When the defendant tells the court whether they are guilty or not guilty of the charge.

Oath – A promise to tell the truth by swearing on a religious book that is important to the person making the promise.

Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) – See DPP above.

Statement – A written document that sets out the evidence of a witness or an accused.

Sheriff's officer – A court official.

Subpoena – A court order to make a witness come to court to give evidence and/or bring documents to court.

Summary offence – A less serious charge that is dealt with in the local court.

Summons – An order from the local court requiring the defendant to come to court to answer a charge.

Transcript – A typed copy of what was said in the court.

Victim impact statement – A report on the effect of a violent crime on the victim written by the victim, a family member or a support person (e.g. a counsellor or psychologist).

Voir dire – Legal argument about the admissibility of a particular piece of evidence in court. The jury are sent out of court while this argument takes place.​