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.


The person who is appointed to decide cases and to make sure that legal procedures are followed in the courtroom.


Authority of a court to listen to and decide cases. Each court has the authority to hear certain cases. State and federal laws determine which subjects courts may decide and whether the court's decision will be binding on someone who lives in another state.


A group of people who determine the guilt or non-guilt of the defendant. The lawyers screen the jury to make sure the people on it are neutral (impartial).