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
Antecedents – A person's criminal
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
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
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.