Office of the State Attorney

Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Florida

 
 
 

 

Legal Terms


 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Absentia

Absent; proceeding without defendant being present.

Acquittal

A finding of not guilty by judge or jury.

Adjudication

A judgment rendered by the court after a finding of guilt.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

A mediation program for certain misdemeanor offenders.

Affidavit of Insolvency

A form signed by the defendant under oath attesting to inability to pay.

Answer to Demand

A document filed by the State Attorney's Office responding to a demand for discovery by a defense attorney, setting forth witnesses in the case, information about the case, and allowing duplication of case information/reports.

Appeal

An application, lodged by the defendant or the State Attorney's Office, requesting a review of the case by the court of appeal.

Arraignment

Appearance of the defendant in court to enter his/her plea to charges.

Assistant State Attorney

State employee designated by the State Attorney to prosecute defendants.

Asylum State

The state holding the fugitive.

Attorney of Record

The attorney retained/assigned to represent a client.

B

Bail

Cash or surety posted to procure the release of a defendant and to ensure his or her future appearance in court, compelling him/her to remain in the jurisdiction of the court.

Bench Warrant

Warrant issued by the judge when a defendant fails to appear for a scheduled court appearance.

Bond Amounts

Cash or surety to be posted for release on bail.

Bond - Surety

A certificate posted by a bonding company to the sheriff releasing defendant.

Bond - Supersedeas

The bond set by court during the appeal procedure posted with the Clerk of Court.

C 

Capias

A writ to the Sheriff to arrest an accused person.

Capias - Instanter

Issuance of the arrest order with court direction to bring the accused before court immediately with no bond.

Certified Copy

A document that is authenticated, signed, and sealed by the Clerk of Court.

Challenge

Term used in a jury trial when attempting to excuse a juror.

Charges - Multiple

A case with more than one count of offense listed in the Information or charging document.

Charging Document

A Citation, Information, Indictment, Petition, 923.01, or Notice to Appear indicating that the named person is accused of committing a specific criminal offense or civil infraction.

Circuit Court

Court that hears felony cases.

Citation

The summons handed to defendant indicating the offense committed.

Civil

This type of case involves private rights and remedies of citizens.

Clerk of Court

County office that receives all original paperwork on each criminal case.

Codefendant

Person accused of committing the same criminal incident with other defendant(s).

Community Control

Form of probation restricting defendant's movements.

Companion Cases

Cases involving more than one defendant arrested on the same criminal incident. (Codefendant cases.)

Conflict Attorney

One of a pool of attorneys who is appointed on a rotation basis when the public defender has a conflict of interest such as representing a codefendant.

Contempt of Court

Act of disrespect to the court; willful disregard of court's authority.

Continuance

Postponing a trial or hearing to a later date.

Court Date Notice

A written form used to bring the accused to court.

County Court

Court that hears misdemeanor, traffic cases, municipal ordinance violations, etc.

Court Reporter

Maintains a verbatim record of court events.

D

Defendant

Person accused of a crime.

Deferred Payment

Court grants additional time to pay a fine.

Demand for Discovery

Demand by the defense attorney to the State Attorney to furnish material information on a case.

Demanding State

The state seeking return of a fugitive.

Deposition

Questioning of a witness before a court reporter by an opposing counsel as part of pretrial discovery process.

Demurrer

A legal attack on a document as to sufficiency.

Directed Verdict

Dismissed by a judge.

Dismissed

Dismissed by a judge.

Dispositions

The final action of a case.

Discharge of Bond

A court order to release bond, usually once the case is disposed.

Docket

A list of cases pending before the court.

D. O. C.

Department of Corrections/State Prison facility.

E

Estreature of Bond

A court order to forfeit bond to the county.

Evidence Log

A list of all items entered as evidence in trial (exhibits).

Exhibits

Any paper or object offered in court that is marked for identification or evidence.

Expert Witness

Experts in medicine, forensics, etc., who testify at trial.

Expungement

Destroy, obliterate and wholly strike out the criminal history record of a person's case.

Extradition

Surrender by one state to another of a person accused or convicted of an offense outside its own territory and within territorial jurisdiction of the other, with the other state which is competent to try him/her demanding his/her surrender.

F

Felony

Crime carrying a penalty of possible incarceration in state prison.

File/Record

The Clerk's office's official recording of minutes and all documents signed by the judge.

First Appearance

Accused's right to see a judge within 24 hours of arrest.

Florida Statutes

A listing or book of the laws of the state of Florida.

Fugitive

A person who flees from one state to another to avoid prosecution.

G

Grand Jury

A group of people drawn/selected to serve as a constituent part of the court of criminal jurisdiction. Purpose of the Grand Jury is to investigate and be informed on crimes committed. The Grand Jury has 21 members, with not less than 15 for a quorum, and at least 12 concurring before an indictment may be found.

H

Habeas Corpus

A means to bring the defendant before the court to determine whether he/she is being detained unlawfully.

Hearing Proceedings

Record of testimony/evidence entered.

I

Implied Consent

Requirement to take a chemical test when arrested for driving under the influence.

Incarceration

Confinement in prison/jail.

Indictment

A formal charging document issued by a Grand Jury to the Court wherein the named person(s) is accused of committing a specific crime.

Indigent

A defendant unable to afford a private defense attorney. These clients are represented by the public defender or a conflict attorney.

Information

A formal charging document issued by the State Attorney wherein the named person is accused of committing a specific offense.

Infraction

A non-criminal traffic/marine offense.

Initial Proceedings

The first court appearance of a defendant on a charge.

Intake

Process by which the State Attorney makes up a criminal file, files upon the case, etc.

Invoke the Rule (of sequestration)

Separation and exclusion of witnesses from the courtroom while testimony is being offered from other witnesses.

J 

Judgment/Sentence

The official document of a judge's disposition (decision) of a case and sentence of a defendant.

Jurisdiction

The authority/power to hear a case.

Jury Trial

A trial in which a jury decides the facts at issue.

Juvenile

A child under the age of 18 years.

L

Lesser Included

Any less serious offense whose definition is included within the definition of the original charge.

 M

Mandate

The official decree by a court of appeal.

Minutes

A written accounting of what took place in court.

Misdemeanor

An offense punishable by not more than one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Motion

A document filed with the court requesting an order or ruling in favor of the applicant.

Motion in Limine

Motion for order against admission of prejudicial statements or questions.

Motion to Mitigate Sentence

A motion to reduce sentence.

Motion to Seal

A motion to close a record to public inspection.

Motion to Suppress

A motion to prevent admission of evidence in a case.

 N

No Contest/Nolo Contendere

A defendant neither admits nor denies the charges, letting them stand as is.

No File/Unfiled Disposed

State Attorney's Office does not file on a case.

No Information

Document indicating formal charges will not be filed by the State Attorney's Office.

No Probable Cause

Insufficient grounds to hold the person who was arrested.

No True Bill

A finding by a Grand Jury that there is no probable cause to decide that a crime has been committed.

Nol-Pros

To drop prosecution of by entering a nolle prosequi on the courts records.

Nolle Prosequi (Nol-Pros)

A declaration that the plaintiff in a civil case or the prosecutor in a criminal case will drop prosecution of all or part of a suit or indictment.

Nolo Contendere/No Contest

A defendant neither admits nor denies the charges, letting them stand as is.

Non-Jury Trial

A case tried by a judge.

Nunc Pro Tunc

An entry made now for an act done previously and to have the effect as if it were done on a prior date.

O 

Oaths

Sworn attestations required in court.

Oath of Indigency and Order Appointing Counsel

A document signed by the defendant under oath before the judge stating he/she is without funds to retain an attorney. The judge may then declare the defendant indigent and sign an order appointing counsel.

Order

A document signed by the judge making an award or ruling.

 P

PAD

Prosecutor's Alternative Division (not in Brevard Co.); settlement of a case without prosecution. PDP Pretrial Diversion Program for certain misdemeanor offenders.

Parole

A conditional release from a correctional facility of a prisoner who has served part of the term/sentence to which he/she was sentenced.

Petition

A formal charging document issued by the State Attorney wherein the named juvenile is accused of committing a specific offense.

Plaintiff

The one bringing the charges against the accused.

Plea

Defendant's answer to the charge.

Plea Negotiations

Negotiations between the State and the defense for a fair disposition of the case, and requiring approval of the court.

Praecipe

A writ commanding the Clerk of Court to issue a subpoena or summons.

Pre-Sentence Investigation

A background investigation of the defendant by Probation and Parole Services which is provided to the sentencing judge, State Attorney, and defense attorney.

Pre-Trial Intervention

A county program to aid certain qualified defendants by diverting them from court proceedings upon successful completion of the program.

Probable Cause

Reasonable belief that a crime was committed and that the named person committed the crime.

Pre-Trial Release

Release of a defendant after arrest and before any court appearance date.

Prima Facie

On the face of it; factually.

Probation

Suspension of a sentence, with or without adjudication of guilt, and placing the defendant under supervision of the Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Services for a specified period of time, and with conditions of behavior.

Public Defender

A court appointed attorney for those defendants who are declared indigent.

Public Defender Lien

Upon order of the Judge, a fee paid to the county by the defendant for legal services rendered by the Public Defender.

 Q

Quickie Order (Short form order)

A form used by a judge directing that some action be taken.

R

Release on Own Recognizance (ROR)

Release of a prisoner with no bond by a judge.

Recusal

A judge excuses himself from hearing/considering a case due to some conflict.

Rendition

The transfer of a fugitive from the asylum state to the demanding state.

Recall Order

Order recalling a Warrant/Capias.

 Record/File

The Clerk's office's official recording of minutes and all documents signed by the judge.

S

Scoresheet

A form used for sentencing utilizing the points system mandated by the legislature.

Seal

Clerk of the Court symbol of authenticity.

Sealing a criminal record

To close a criminal record, make unavailable, confidential, or exempt from public record. Second Appearance Court appearance after initial proceedings in which the state may file an Information, the defendant is discharged, or continuance for another appearance.

Sentence/Judgment

The official document of a judge's disposition (decision) of a case and sentence of a defendant.

Show Cause Order

An order issued by the court requiring a person to appear and show why some action should not be taken.

Signature Bond

A signature bond sometimes secured by a mortgage or real property but usually unsecured.

Speedy Trial

A rule of law wherein the defendant must be brought to trial within 90 days for misdemeanor and 175 days for felony.

Statement of Particulars

A detailed statement of the offense charged, sufficient to enable the defendant to properly prepare his/her defense.

Subpoena Duces Tecum

Court process requiring a witness to produce requested documents or other materials, at a specific time/date.

Summons

A document signed by a deputy clerk ordering a person to appear before the court.

Sworn Complaint Affidavit

A sworn, witnessed complaint filed with the Clerk of Court initiating a criminal case.

 T

Time Served

Actual number of days served in jail.

Traverse

A formal denial of allegations.

True Copy

An exact copy of a written document.

U

Unfiled Disposed/No File

State Attorney's Office does not file on a case.

V

Vacate Estreature

A court order that cancels the bond forfeiture.

Verdict

The findings of a judge or jury at the end of a trial.

Voir Dire

Examination of a jury panel by the judge, defense counsel, and the State Attorney for selection to serve on a case.

 W

Waiver of Extradition

A form signed before a judge in which the defendant voluntarily submits to be picked up by a foreign jurisdiction waiving his rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

Warrant

A writ issued by a judge authorizing an officer to make an arrest, a seizure, or a search, or to do other acts incident to the administration of justice.

Withhold of Adjudication

The judge withholds the judgment of guilt/conviction on an offense.

Writ

A written document/order requiring the performance of a specified act, or giving authority and commission to have it done.

Writ of Certiorari

An order by the appellate court used when the court has the discretion on whether or not to hear an appeal.

Writ of Habeas Corpus Ad Prosequendum

A writ of the court ordering that a prisoner be brought before the court to be prosecuted.

Writ of Habeas Corpus Ad Testificandum

A writ of the court ordering that a prisoner be brought before the court to testify.

Written Plea of Not Guilty

A defendant's plea in writing to the court. In the felony court, this plea may only be filed by counsel.

 

 

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