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It is interesting how we tend to leave out legal terms exclusively to the judges and attorneys. But, whether you will be involved in criminal justice or not, you must know at least the essential legal terminologies.

In fact, legal literacy and democracy start with understanding the commonly used courtroom vocabularies.

Besides, it isn’t very respectful to seek clarifications for vocabularies that you ought to know. Therefore, this post aims at creating curiosity for legal awareness by highlighting the top 20 legal terms.

Below are the top 30 legal terms that every felon must know

Accomplice: The term accomplice refers to an individual who assists another to perpetrate a crime. Thus, an accomplice closely relates to an accessory. The only difference is that an accessory is absent during the execution of the crime.

Accord: This is a commonly used legal term that means an agreement, especially when settling a dispute or an obligation.  

Accused: The term accused refers to a person implicated in perpetuating an offense but is yet to be heard.

Admission: Admission refers to an acknowledgment of an accusation, charge, or fault.

Allegation: An allegation is an assertion, claim, or unproven fact in a defense. Unless allegations are proven, they remain as bare claims.

Appeal: When the accused/defendant is found guilty, the law allows for a petition/appeal ─ application to have your case reviewed by a higher court of law.

Arraignment: Arraignment is a court terminology that refers to reading charges to the defendant in the accusations. It is a formal way of informing the defendant of the charges against them.

Assault: Attempt or threat to induce an affliction with a possibility of executing the threat. Again, any willful demonstration of force that would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm.

Bail: The cash or property issued to the court as surety when the defendant is freed before trial with the arrangement that the accused will return to court when ordered.

Battery: Unlawful physical contact, an offensive touch, or a strike to the victim.

Brief: A documented argument by an attorney arguing a case, consisting of pertinent laws, an outline of the basis of the case, and a justification of how the law relates to the factual condition. Also known as a memorandum of law.

Charge: An official accusation filed by an individual or the prosecutor’s office that a given person(accused) has perpetrated an offense.

Criminal summons: This is a directive instructing the suspect to show up in court.

Custody: lawfully confining the suspect to guarantee their appearance to any trial; the detention or incarceration of a convict.

Damage: Damages is a  legal term used to refer to the monetary settlements a client wants to recover. This term may be divided into sub-categories such as economic damages for missed or denied wages, trade expenses, lost profit, or non-economic damages, referring to emotional suffering, pain and affliction, permanent impairments, scars, physical harms, and so forth.

Deferred sentence: Refers to a delayed, suspended, or postponed sentence.

Default: In the justice system, the term default means that one party, either the complainant or defendant, has declined to accomplish the requirements necessary to table their claim.

Disclosure: This is the act of revealing the otherwise hidden evidence or facts.

Dismissal: The termination of legal charges by a magistrate or a judge.

Exhibit: A document or any item presented as a piece of tangible evidence during a hearing or trial.

Finding: Formal decisions by a jury or an administrative agency on factual issues. Also, it refers to a conclusion by a judge about a fact.

Hearing: This is a formal proceeding made before a judge or regulatory body. Also, it refers to the examination of evidence and arguments as they are presented in court to settle a dispute or legal issue.

Homicide: The act of one human being killing another.

Jeopardy: This is the situation of somebody charged with an offense and thus at risk of sentence and penalty.

Mistrial: A null and void verdict because of some fundamental mistakes in the proceeding, malpractice, or a deadlocked jury.

Objection: The formal process by which the litigants declare disapproval of a given procedure or law during the trial. An objection can either be sustained or overruled by the judge.

Plaintiff: A person or organization who initiates legal action against the another. Also known as the complainant.

Self-incrimination: The act of making statements or giving evidence that might implicate you to criminal prosecution and punishment either currently or in later days. 

Sentence: The punishment allocated by a court for a defendant who has been proven guilty of an offense.

Writ: A judicial command instructing someone to do something.

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