Criminal Law Terminology

Essential Terminology When Dealing with a Top Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Clear communication is one of the essential elements when dealing with a criminal defense attorney, but sometimes the lawyer might use unfamiliar legal terminology and be immediately available to answer questions about what a word means. In fact, some criminal terminology is still so hotly debated the Supreme Court continues to interpret the definition of these words. This article will explain some of the most common terms that are used by criminal defense lawyers.

● Actus Reus. In Latin, this term means guilty act. Generally, a criminal act requires a guilt act (the actus reus) in addition to a guilty mind (mens rea).

● Affirmative Defense. In a criminal defense setting, this defense refers to facts which are particularly within the knowledge of the accused. The defendant, however, must establish the presence of the defense.

● Appeal. An appeal refers to a legal procedure in which an individual requests a higher court to reverse, modify, or review the decision of a lower court or agency.

● Change of Venue. This term refers to an alteration in the location where the trial is held which occurs when a case changes courts.

● Competence. The legal ability to act. This is a requirement for criminal prosecution.

● Contempt of Court. Any act that is designed to interfere with a court’s ability to administer justice. Contempt of court results in potential criminal charges.

● Discovery. Discovery refers to the various pretrial procedures by which parties learn and gather information or evidence about the case.

● False Arrest. This type of arrest occurs without legal justification.

● Fee. This term refers to payment for services rendered including by an attorney.

● Hostile Witness. A witness who interests who are opposed to a party.

● Hung Jury. A jury that cannot agree on a final verdict.

● Mens Rea. In Latin, this term means guilty mind. Usually, no crime occurs unless a guilty act is done with a guilty mind.

● Mistrial. The suspension of a trial by a court due to some act or event that compromises the fairness of a proceeding.

● Motion. A written or oral request asking the court to take a specified action.

● Objection. This action is made by a lawyer who takes exception to something that occurs in a court of law and the attorney believes to be improper.

● Peremptory Challenge. The right to have a potential juror dismissed from a jury without stating a specific reason.

● Plain Error. An action made during a trial or other legal proceeding that is so determinative of the case’s outcome that it can form the basis of an appeal.

● Pre-trial Conference.  A meeting of the parties, attorneys, and judges which occurs before the trial.

● Pro Hac Vice. In Latin, for this occasion. Most states will admit an attorney from another state for the purpose of participating in a single case even though the attorney is not specifically licensed to practice law in that state.

If you are in need of a top Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, contact the office of RJ Manuela 213-401-2777.