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 punishment or penalty that the judge gives to a person who has plead guilty or whom a jury has found guilty.

Service of process

In the context of a restraining order, the actual delivery of court paperwork that informs a person of an upcoming hearing and any temporary restraining orders against him/her. When someone receives this paperwork, s/he has been served.


A written compromise reached in a civil case and approved by a judge.


Each state defines stalking differently. The Stalking Resource Center of the National Center for Victims of Crime provides stalking-related state and federal statutes and other stalking-related info. The Stalking Resource Center website is at http://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center.



Government; society; a group of people living under a single government; the United States or one of the 50 states.


An order of the court that commands a witness to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony about a specific matter or case. Any person who fails to appear as required by the subpoena may be punished as contempt of court.


To stop temporarily or to postpone on certain conditions.