Words & Meanings

Please find below some commonly used words and their definitions:

 

ADJOURNED/ADJOURNMENT

Case being postponed until another date for any number of reasons by the court, does not mean case has been dealt with.

 

A JUDGE

Person appointed to try cases in law courts

 

A MAGISTRATE

Civil officer administering and enforcing the law. May have jurisdiction in civil/criminal cases or both.

 

BARRISTER

A member of the bar: a lawyer entitled to represent clients in all the courts

 

COMMITTAL

Sending a defendant to a court (usually from Magistrates to Crown Court). Committal proceedings are heard at the Magistrates court before a case is then sent to be tried (by a jury) in the Crown Court. Defendant can elect trial by jury at the Crown Court or it can be sent by the Magistrates who feel due to the nature of the offence it should go to the Crown Court.

 

COURT CLERK

They are qualified lawyers who advise magistrates about the law and legal procedures in Magistrate Courts. They are also present at Crown Court proceedings, although their role is not that of a legal advisor, but of a clerk.

 

COURT USHER

They make sure that all the people connected with a case being heard in court are in the right place and know what they have to do.

 

COUNSEL

A Barrister or solicitor in legal proceedings

 

CROWN PROSECUTION LAWYER

A lawyer who works for the Crown Prosecution Service.

 

CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE

Also known as CPS, the independent national body for the prosecution of defendants.

 

DEFENCE

Used by a defendant in legal proceedings to present their side of the case in order to avoid liability - civil or criminal.

 

DEFENDANT

A person who has been charged with committing a crime.

 

GUILTY PLEA

Where the defendant admits to having committed an offence. No trial is required.

 

NOT GUILTY PLEA

Complete denial of an offence, which results in a trial being required at court.

 

OFFICER IN THE CASE

The Police Officer who is responsible for your case.

 

PRE-SENTENCE REPORTS

Documents prepared by the Probation Service to assist the court in sentencing a criminal defendant after conviction. The reports usually consist of prior convictions, prior arrests, employment history, education history, family and social background.

 

PROSECUTION

The legal proceedings taken against a defendant.

 

RECORDER

Members of the legal profession (barristers or solicitors) who are appointed to act in a judicial capacity on a part time basis. They may progress to become a full time judge.

 

REGINA ‘R v‘

This is Crown versus….term used on official correspondence and documents.

 

SPECIAL MEASURES

Only provided in certain circumstances and enables a victim/witness to give better evidence for example by the use of a screen/TV link and if a child witness removal of wigs and gowns.

 

VICTIM LIAISON OFFICER

Employed by the Probation Service to keep in contact with the victim of a crime, when the defendant is sentenced to 12 months or more for a sexual or violent offence.

 

VICTIM PERSONAL STATEMENT

Statement in which a victim of a crime or victims family can explain how the incident has impacted on their life emotionally, financially, physically and mentally. It is optional.

 

VICTIM SUPPORT

This is the Independent national charity that helps people cope with crime. There are local branches across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Trained volunteers offer someone to talk to in confidence, information on court and police procedures, information about compensation and insurance, help in dealing with other organisations and links to other possible sources of help.

 

WITNESS CARE OFFICER

The person who will contact you to ensure all of your practical needs are met for the duration of the case.

 

WITNESS SERVICE

The Witness Service is in every criminal court in England and Wales and is there to give information and support to victims/witnesses/family and friends when they go to court.

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