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Glossary of Terms

Victim/Witness Information

Glossary of Terms

ACQUITTAL - The decision of a judge or jury that the defendant was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 
ADMISSION TO SUFFICIENT FACTS - An admission by the defendant that there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilty.

ARRAIGNMENT - The court hearing in which the defendant is charged with a crime and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty.

ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY/PROSECUTOR-An attorney employed by the Commonwealth whose duty is to prosecute persons accused of committing criminal offenses.

BAIL – An amount of money or property sometimes imposed by the court to insure future attendance in court.

C.O.R.I. – Criminal Offender Record Information.

CHANGE OF PLEA – A change of defendant’s plea from not guilty to guilty.

COMPLAINT – A written accusation of a crime made in the District Court by a police officer or a private citizen.

CONTINUANCES – A delay or postponement of a court hearing.

DEFAULT – A defendant’s failure to appear at a required legal proceeding.

DEFENDANT- A person formally charged with a crime.

DEFENSE COUNSEL – The attorney representing the defendant.

DISPOSITION – The end result of a case.

FELONY – A crime punishable by incarceration in the state prison for a period of years.

GRAND JURY –A group of 23 people that hear evidence presented by a prosecutor to determine if a formal charge (indictment) should issue.

INDICTMENT – A written statement of a crime by the Grand Jury charging the defendant and issued in the Superior Court.

INDIGENT – Having insufficient income or assets to pay for a Defense Attorney.

JURISDICTION – The extent of authority of a particular court.

MISDEMEANOR – A crime punishable by incarceration in the County House of Correction for a maximum of 2 ½ years.

PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE –The hearing in which the prosecutor and the defense report the status of the case to the court.

PROBATION – The defendant is placed under the supervision of a probation officer and is required to fulfill certain conditions during a specified time period.

RESTITUTION –A judge, in some cases, may order the defendant to pay out of pocket expenses to a victim of crime.

SUBPOENA/SUMMONS –A court order requiring an appearance in court.

VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT –Massachusetts General Laws chapter 258B allows.