Words You Need to Know

Glossary of Terms

Because your path to freedom involves legal processes, you will hear a lot of new words, as well as familiar words being used in new ways.

Use this list to help you understand some of the key terms that will be used during the process.

Remember to ask questions. Whenever there are terms or parts of the process you don’t understand, ask someone to explain it to you.

Grand jury

A group of 23 citizens who decide whether there is "reasonable cause" to believe the defendant has committed a crime and whether an indictment should be issued

Guardian ad litem

The person assigned by the court to represent the interests of a minor child or incompetent person in legal proceedings. In some states, such as Massachusetts, guardian as litems are appointed by the court to perform investigations or evaluations in custody cases, and to make reports to the court, sometimes with recommendations.