GLOSSARY OF CRIMINAL LAW WORDS


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A

a/k/a - Also known as. Reference on court documents to indicate a person's known alias or aliases. For example: John Q. Doe, a/k/a John Q. Smith.

accomplice - A person who knowingly and voluntarily aids, abets, advises or encourages the principal offender in a criminal act.

acquittal - A verdict after a criminal trial that a defendant has not been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

action - A case, cause, suit or controversy disputed or contested before a court of justice.

actus reus - Proof that a criminal act has occurred.

admissible - Evidence which can be legally and properly introduced.

affidavit - A written statement of fact given voluntarily and under oath.

affirmed - In the practice of appellate courts, the word means that the decree or order at issue is declared valid and will stand as rendered in the lower court.

affirmative defense - Without denying the charge, a defendant raises extenuating or mitigating circumstances such as self-defense, insanity, or entrapment to avoid criminal responsibility. In civil cases, a defendant raises a legal fact, such as a statute of limitations or acclaim that the debt was paid, which would avoid a judgment against him or her based on the facts in the complaint.

Alford plea - A plea whereby a defendant does not specifically admit guilt, but concedes that the prosecution's evidence would be sufficient to win a conviction if the case were to go to trial.

allegation - A claim or statement of what a party intends to prove; the facts as one party claims they are.

allege - To claim or declare that something is so
allocution - When a judge grants the right of allocution, the defendant is asked if he or she has any statement to make to the court prior to sentencing. The defendant or his or her attorney may respond, but no response is required.

amendment - The correction of an error in any process, pleading, or proceeding at law.

answer - In a civil case, the formal written statement by a defendant responding to a complaint and setting forth the grounds for his or her defense.

appeal - A request by the losing party in a lawsuit that the judgment be reviewed by a higher court.

appearance - The formal act by which a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of a court.

appellant - The party who initiates an appeal.

appellate court - A court having jurisdiction to hear appeals and review a trial court's procedure.

appellee - The party against whom an appeal is taken.

arraignment - The proceeding in which an accused person is brought before a judge to hear the charges filed against him or her and to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest (nolo contendere).

arrest - To take into custody by legal authority.

ATF - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

AUSA - Assistant United States Attorney. A federal trial attorney, appointed by the Attorney General upon the recommendation of the U.S. Attorney in his or her district.

B

bail - Money or other security (such as a bail bond) given to secure a person's release from custody, which is at risk should he or she subsequently fail to appear before the court.

bail bond - The obligation, signed by the accused to secure his or her presence at trial, which he or she may lose by not properly appearing for trial or any other court proceeding. Often referred to simply as bond.

bailiff - A court attendant, sometimes called a courtroom deputy, who keeps order in the courtroom and has custody of the jury.

bench warrant - An order issued by a judge for the arrest of a person.

best evidence - Primary evidence; the best evidence available (i.e., production of an original letter is the "best evidence" that a letter exists).

bill of particulars - A detailed statement of the charges made against a defendant.

bind over - To hold a person for trial on bond (bail) or in jail.

bond for costs - A bond given by a party to secure the eventual payment of the costs of a suit.

brief - A written statement prepared by one side in an appellate case to explain to the court its view of the facts of a case and the applicable law. At district court level, the statement is known as a memorandum.

C

capias - A writ requiring the marshal to take a defendant into custody.

caption - The heading on a legal document listing the parties, the court, the case number and related information.

challenge - An objection to the seating of a prospective juror on the jury panel for a trial.

challenge for cause - Objection to the seating of a particular juror for a stated reason (usually bias or prejudice for or against one of the parties in a lawsuit).

charge to the jury - The judge's instruction to the jury concerning the law that applies to the facts of the case.

circumstantial evidence - Evidence that merely suggests something by implication. The law does not distinguish between the weight to be given to direct, or eyewitness, evidence and circumstantial evidence. Jurors are instructed that they may give more weight to circumstantial evidence than direct evidence if they find the circumstantial evidence to be more credible.

cite - To command the presence of a person; to notify a person of legal proceedings against him or her, and to require his appearance in the court, especially to face contempt proceedings. Also, to read or refer to legal authorities in an argument or submission to a court. For example, to cite a case is to refer to a particular case in an attempt to persuade the court to be guided by the decision reached in that case.

civil action - Every lawsuit other than a criminal action; an adversary proceeding for the enforcement or protection of a legal right or the redress or prevention of a wrong.

clerk of court - An officer appointed by a court of justice who has charge of the clerical work; keeps the records and seal, issues process, enters judgments and orders, and gives certified copies of documents from the record.

complainant - The party who complains or sues; one who applies to the court for legal redress, also called the plaintiff.

concurrent sentence - Sentences for more than one violation, to be served at the same time rather than one after the other.

consecutive sentence - Successive sentences, one beginning at the expiration of another, imposed against a person convicted of two or more violations.

contempt of court - Willful disobedience of a judge's command or of a court order, or actions calculated to embarrass or hinder the court in the administration of justice. Contempt may be cited in both civil and criminal cases.

continuance - Postponement of a legal proceeding to a later date.

conviction - A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.

corroborating evidence - Supplementary evidence that tends to strengthen or confirm initial evidence.

costs - An amount of money awarded to the successful party (and recoverable from the losing party) solely as reimbursement for certain expenses incurred in prosecuting or defending the suit. Does not include attorney fees.

counterclaim - A claim which a defendant makes against a plaintiff.

court of appeals - An intermediate federal court, inferior to the U.S. Supreme Court but higher than the U.S. District Court. Its function is to review the final decisions of the district courts, if challenged. There is a court of appeals for each judicial circuit. Cases appealed from the Western District of Missouri are heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

cross-claim - A claim by one party against a co-party (a defendant claiming against another defendant, or a plaintiff against another plaintiff) arising out of the original complaint.

cross examination - The questioning of a witness produced by the other side.

cumulative sentence - Sentences for two or more crimes to run successively rather than concurrently.

D

DEA - Drug Enforcement Administration. Part of the U.S. Department of Justice, the DEA is the lead federal agency in enforcing narcotics and controlled substances laws and regulations.

DOJ - Abbreviation for U.S. Department of Justice.

DUSA - Deputy United States Attorney. A federal trial attorney, appointed by the Attorney General upon the recommendation of the U.S. Attorney in his or her district. In many districts, a DUSA serves as supervisor of a specific office division or, in the absence of the U.S. Attorney, as supervisor of the office at large. A district may have more than one DUSA.

damages - A monetary compensation which may be recovered in the courts by a person who has suffered a loss or injury through the unlawful act or negligence of another.

de novo - Anew. A "trial de novo" is a new trial of a case.

defendant - In criminal cases, the person charged with a crime. In civil cases, the person or entity from whom relief is sought by the plaintiff.

deposition - The testimony of a witness taken under oath in preparation for a trial.

detention hearing - A proceeding held to determine whether or not a person should be held in judicial custody prior to trial or, if detention has been enforced, whether or not it should be terminated.

direct evidence - Proof of facts by witnesses who saw acts done or heard words spoken, as distinguished from circumstantial, or indirect, evidence.

direct examination - The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.

discovery - The pretrial process by which one party discovers the evidence that will be relied upon at trial by the opposing party.

dismissal - The termination of a case.

district courts - Courts of the United States, each having territorial jurisdiction over a judicial district which may include a whole state or only part of it. The district courts are the trial courts of the federal judiciary.

diversity of citizenship - A phrase used with reference to federal jurisdiction, denoting a civil case in which the district courts have jurisdiction because all the persons on one side of the case are citizens of states different from all the persons on the other side. The matter in controversy must also exceed a value of $50,000.

docket - A list of cases to be heard by a court.

document - Generally refers to writings, pictures, maps, etc. Denotes official papers such as deeds, agreements, title
papers, receipts and other written instruments used to prove a fact.

double jeopardy - Putting a person on trial more than once for the same crime; forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

due process of law - The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. Includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel, and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.

E

elements of a crime - Specific factors that define a crime, every element of which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction.

entry of judgment - Recording the judgment. The action of the court clerk, putting into the docket book a statement of the final judgment and entering copies thereof in the record of the case and the judgment book.

equitable sharing - a manner of distributing proceeds seized and/or forfeited in federal criminal investigations and prosecutions. Through equitable sharing, law enforcement agencies which participate in a case may receive a share of the assets seized in that case, such as drug money, for use in financing their ongoing law enforcement efforts.

evidence - Any kind of matter, presented at trial through witnesses, records, or documents for the purpose of persuading the court or jury of the correctness of the contentions of the parties.

ex parte - On behalf of only one party, without notice to any other party. An ex parte motion is filed by one party without notice to the other party.

ex post facto - After the fact.

examination - An interrogation or search. The examination of a witness consists of a series of questions asked by a party to the action or his attorney, in order to bring before the court or jury the knowledge which the witness has of the facts or matters in dispute, or probing and sifting the evidence as previously given.

execution of judgment - A writ (order) to the marshal or sheriff requiring him or her to carry out the judgment of the court.

exceptions - Declarations by either side reserving the right to appeal a judge's ruling upon a motion.

exclusionary rule - Court-made rule preventing illegally obtained evidence from being used in the case in chief against a criminal defendant; derived from Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.

exhibit - A document or other article introduced as evidence during a trial or hearing.

F

FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation. The principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Justice.

FNU - First name unknown. Reference on court documents indicating that an individual's true first name is unknown to authorities.

federal question - Refers to the jurisdiction given to the federal courts in cases involving the interpretation and application of Acts of Congress, the U.S. Constitution, and treaties.

file - To put into files or records of the court; to file a paper is to place it in the official custody of the clerk. The clerk is to endorse upon the paper the date it is received and retain it in the record of the case subject to public inspection.

forfeiture - Real or personal property to which the right is lost due to the commission of a crime or by way of an assessed penalty. A forfeiture may be either administrative or judicial.

G

grand jury - A group of citizens, from 16 to 23, who are assembled in secret to hear or investigate allegations of criminal behavior. A grand jury may remain empaneled up to 18 months. It has authority to conduct criminal investigations and to charge a crime by indictment.

H

habeas corpus - A writ which commands that a person be brought before a judge. Most commonly, a writ of habeas corpus is a legal document that forces law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding so that the court can determine whether legal justification exists for the detention. More specifically, there are writs "ad testificandum" (to produce an incarcerated person in court to testify at a trial) and "ad prosequendum" (to produce an incarcerated person in court as a party to a lawsuit).

harmless error - An error committed during a trial that was either corrected or not serious enough to affect the outcome of a trial and therefore was not sufficiently harmful (prejudicial) to be reversed on appeal.

hearing - A relatively formal proceeding similar to a trial, with one or more legal issues to be agreed upon or determined.

hearsay - Evidence that is not within the personal knowledge of the witness but was relayed to the witness by a third party.

hostile witness - A witness whose testimony is not favorable to the party who calls him or her as a witness.

hung jury - A jury that cannot reach a verdict.

I

IRS - Internal Revenue Service. Part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Certain tax-related criminal cases filed by the U.S. Attorney are often the result of field work by the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS. The IRS also may be involved in certain civil cases filed by the U.S. Attorney.

immunity - In criminal cases, a grant by the court against prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence against another. In civil cases, immunity is a complete legal defense against being found liable for the relief sought by the plaintiff or against being sued at all.

impeachment of a witness - An attack on the credibility of a witness, through evidence introduced for that purpose.

in camera - In chambers, or in private. Matters of the court that are addressed in camera are not open to the public.

in forma pauperis - "In the manner of a pauper." The permission given to a person to sue without payment of court fees.

in rem - An action in rem is one taken directly against property and has for its object the disposition of property, without reference to who owns the property.

inadmissible - That which under the rules of evidence cannot be admitted or received as evidence.

indictment - An accusation by a grand jury charging a person with a crime.

information - An accusatory document, filed by the prosecutor, detailing the charges against the defendant.

injunction - A temporary or permanent order of the court prohibiting the performance of some specific act in order to prevent irreparable harm to the one seeking the injunction.

instructions - A judge's directions to the jury regarding the law in the case and its authority to determine the facts and to draw inferences from the facts in order to reach a verdict.

interrogatories - Written questions asked by one party and served on an opposing party who must answer them in writing under oath as a discovery device.

intervention - A proceeding by which a third party is permitted to enter a lawsuit pending between other parties. He may join the plaintiff in seeking what is asked in the complaint; or with the defendant in resisting the claims of the plaintiff; or may demand some relief adverse to both of them.

issue - (1) A disputed point or question to which the parties to a case have narrowed their disagreement; a single material point which is affirmed by one side and denied by the other. When the plaintiff and the defendant have arrived at some point which one affirms and the other denies, the point is said to be they are said to be "at issue." When the defendant has filed an answer denying all or part of the allegations of the complaint, the "issues have been joined" and the case is ready to be set for trial. (2) To send out officially, or to issue an order.

J

judgment - The final disposition of a lawsuit.

judgment n.o.v. - Judgment notwithstanding the verdict; a judge's decision contrary to the verdict of the jury.

jurisdiction - The power or legal authority of the court to hear and decide a case. (1) Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They cannot consider a case unless there is a specific grant of jurisdiction over the case found in federal law. (2) The parties all have sufficient contacts with the judicial district to permit the court to have jurisdiction over them.

jury - Persons selected according to law and sworn to inquire into matters of fact and declare the truth about matters laid before them during a trial.

L

LECC - Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee. An active, working team of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies within a district. Established nationwide in 1981 by the United States Attorney General's Task Force on Violent Crime, the LECC concept was designed to enhance cooperation and coordination of resources among law enforcement groups at all levels of government--federal, state and local. The Western District of Missouri has employed a full-time LECC coordinator since May 1988.

LNU - Last name unknown. Reference on court documents indicating that a person's true last name is not known to authorities.

leading question - A question that suggests the answer desired of the witness. A party generally may not ask one's own witness leading questions; leading questions may be asked only of hostile witnesses and on cross-examination.

limine - A motion requesting that the court exclude certain evidence that might prejudice the jury.

M

MNU - Middle name unknown. Reference on court documents indicating that an individual's true middle name is not known to authorities.

magistrate - A court-appointed judge who may conduct preliminary and pre-trial proceedings in minor criminal offenses and some district court proceedings, including civil trials with the consent of the parties.

mandamus - "We command." It is a command of a higher court to a lower court or a public officer to perform a lawful duty.

mens rea - The "guilty mind" necessary to establish criminal responsibility.

minutes - The official record of what takes place in court.

Miranda warning - Requirement that police tell a suspect in their custody of his or her constitutional rights before they begin questioning.

mistrial - A trial terminated before a verdict is reached, because of fundamental error prejudicial to the defendant (such as an improper drawing of jurors). A mistrial also may be declared in the event of a hung jury, resulting in the order for a new trial.

moot - A proceeding which seeks a judgment or ruling on a dispute which does not actually exist. For example, when one party brings a motion to compel the other to answer interrogatories and the other has already answered, the motion is moot.

motion - An application for a rule or order, made to a court or judge.

N

NMI - No middle initial. Reference found in court documents to a person who has no middle initial. Example: John NMI Smith.

NMN - No middle name. Reference found in court documents to a person who has no middle name. Example: Jane NMN Doe.

Nebia hearing - A judicial proceeding to determine if the bond is being paid from the profits of a crime.

no bill - Grand jury finding that the evidence was insufficient to indict.

nolo contendere - A plea of no contest, but without an admission of guilt.

notice - Information or a warning usually given in writing, informing a person of some fact which it is his or her legal right to know.

notice of appeal - Notice to the court and to the other parties to the suit that a party intends to exercise his or her right to appeal. Filing the notice of appeal in the district court is the first step in making the appeal.

O

OCDETF - Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Established in 1982, OCDETF is a multi-agency approach to combat organized crime and drug traffickers. Through OCDETF, various state and local law enforcement agencies may cooperate on investigations with any or all of nine federal agencies: the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, United States Attorneys, United States Marshals Service, United States Coast Guard, Internal Revenue Service, United States Customs Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

objection - The process by which one party takes exception to some statement or procedure.

opinion - A formal judicial statement of the legal reasoning upon which the judgment is based.

OR - See ROR

order - A written or oral command from a court directing or forbidding an action or deciding a legal issue.

overrule - Judge's decision not to allow an objection; also, decision by higher court finding that a lower court decision was in error.

P

parol evidence - Oral or verbal evidence, of the type given by witnesses in court.

party - A person, business, or government agency actively involved in the prosecution or defense of a legal proceeding.

peremptory challenge - A challenge which may be used to reject a certain number of prospective jurors without giving a reason.

perjury - The criminal offense of making a false statement under oath.

petit jury - Persons impaneled and sworn in a district court, who determine any question or issue of fact in any civil or criminal action according to law and the evidence introduced at the trial.

plaintiff - The one who brings the suit, asking for the enforcement of a right or the recovery or relief from a wrong. The government of the United States of America, represented by the U.S. Attorney, is the plaintiff in every federal criminal case.

plea - The defendant's declaration in open court that he or she is guilty or not guilty, or wishes to plead no contest; the defendant's answer to the charges made in the indictment or information.

plea bargaining - The process through which an accused person and a prosecutor negotiate a mutually satisfactory disposition of a case. Usually it is a legal transaction in which a defendant pleads guilty in exchange for some form of leniency. It often involves a guilty plea to lesser charges or a guilty plea to some of the charges if other charges are dropped. In federal courts, the plea agreement is accepted and approved only after the district judge determines that it satisfies the interests of justice.

pleading - The formal written statements presented by the parties in a civil case, forming the basis for the lawsuit and defining the issues.

polling the jury - The act, after a verdict has been announced, of asking jurors individually whether they agree with the verdict.

prayer - In a civil case, the relief requested in the complaint, cross-claim or counterclaim.

preliminary hearing - The hearing at which a judge determines whether there is sufficient evidence against a person charged with a crime to warrant holding him or her for trial.

presentment - Declaration or document issued by a grand jury that either makes a neutral report or notes misdeeds by officials charged with specified public duties; ordinarily does not include a formal charge of crime (differs from an indictment).

pretrial conference - An informal conference between the attorneys for both sides to clarify the issues and to attempt to work out a settlement, with a judge or magistrate as moderator.

prima facie case - A case that is sufficient in that the minimum amount of evidence necessary has been presented to allow the case to continue in the judicial process.

probable cause - Sufficient legal reason to allow a search and seizure or the arrest of a person.

probation - An alternative to imprisonment allowing a person found guilty of an offense to stay in the community, usually under conditions and the supervision of a probation officer.

procedure - The rules for the conduct of a lawsuit.

proceeding - The judicial business before the court or judicial officer; any step or act taken in a lawsuit from the beginning to the executing of the judgment.

process - The summons or any other writ which may be used during the progress of the case.

prosecutor - A lawyer for the government in a criminal case.

public defender - A court-appointed government lawyer who provides legal defense services at no cost to a poor person accused of a crime.

Q

quash - To vacate or void a summons, indictment or subpoena.

R

RICO - Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. RICO provides for criminal and civil penalties for persons who engage in a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of an unlawful debt that has a special relationship to an enterprise affecting interstate commerce.

reasonable doubt - Such uncertainty as might exist in the judgment and conscience of a prudent person applying reason to the evidence introduced.

rebuttal - Evidence disproving other evidence previously given or reestablishing the credibility of challenged evidence.

record - A written memorial of all the acts and proceedings in an action or suit.

redirect examination - Questioning of witness by party that originally called that witness after opponent's cross-examination.

remand - To send back. The act of the appellate court in sending a case back to the district court for further action.

respondent - The party against whom an appeal is taken.

return - Report to a judge by police on the implementation of an arrest or search warrant; also, report to a judge in reply to a subpoena, civil or criminal.

reverse - Action of a higher court in setting aside or revoking a lower court decision.

reversible error - An error sufficiently prejudicial (harmful) to justify an appellate court in reversing the judgment of a lower court.

ROR or OR (Released on Own Recognizance) - is a term used in criminal courts indicating that the defendant is to be released without bail.  When a criminal attorney requests the judge to release the defendant ROR, the attorney is requesting that the defendant be released without having to post a cash bail or bond. The term recognizance describes an obligation of record, entered into before a court or magistrate.  The party bound recognizes (acknowledges) that he or she owes a personal debt to the government with a defeasance, i.e. subject to a condition that the obligation to pay shall be avoided if the person does a particular act, such as to appear in court. 

S

SA - Special Agent. Professional title of most federal investigative officers.

SAC - Special Agent in Charge. The managing agent for a field office of the FBI, ATF or the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS.

SAUSA - Special Assistant United States Attorney. A federal trial attorney, appointed by the Attorney General upon recommendation of the U.S. Attorney of his or her district. Usually hired for the purpose of assisting in the preparation and presentation of a special case, or special types of cases.

search warrant - A written order issued by a judge that permits a law enforcement officer to search a specific area for specific evidence.

self-incrimination, privilege against - The constitutional right of people to refuse to testify against themselves or make statements that could subject them to criminal prosecution.

sentence - A court's determination of the punishment to be inflicted on a person convicted of a crime.

sentencing guidelines - A complex series of criteria, regulations and limits used by the court to determine a range of appropriate punishment for a defendant. Mandated by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the guidelines were developed by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency of the judicial branch. After a review by Congress, the guidelines became effective on Nov. 1, 1987, and apply to all federal offenses committed on or after that date. Defendants sentenced under the guidelines are not eligible for parole. A judge may sentence a defendant above or below the recommended guideline range, but only under special circumstances.

sentencing report - Document containing background of a convicted person, prepared to guide the judge in the imposition of a sentence. Sometimes called a presentence report, presentence investigation report, or PSI.

service - The delivery of a writ, notice, or injunction, by an authorized person to officially notify another party of a proceeding in which he is concerned.

service of process - The service of writs, summonses or rules to the party to whom they ought to be delivered.

sequestration of witnesses - Keeping all witnesses (except the plaintiff and defendant) out of the courtroom except for their time on the stand, and admonishing them not to discuss their testimony with other witnesses. Designed to prevent a witness from being influenced by testimony of a prior witness.

smurfing - The practice of dividing financial transactions into amounts less than $10,000 to avoid triggering the reporting requirement of the Currency and Transactions Requirements Act. Persons employed by the offender to carry out the transactions may be referred to as "smurfs."

special grand jury - Differs from a regular grand jury in that it is normally empaneled for special investigative purposes, such as the investigation of organized crime. Unlike a regular grand jury, which may remain empaneled up to 18 months, a special grand jury may be extended for up to 36 months.

state's evidence - Testimony given by a participant in a crime, tending to convict others.

statute - Written law enacted by a legislature.

Strike Force - The Organized Crime Strike Force Unit is a specialized prosecution unit within the United States Attorney's Office. In the early 1970s, strike forces were strategically placed by the U.S. Department of Justice in all major cities to coordinate multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional initiatives to combat and eliminate organized crime groups. In January 1990, the Kansas City Strike Force was merged into the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri, with a similar mission but limited to this judicial district and the District of Kansas. The Strike Force Unit coordinates closely with local and federal investigative agencies to identify and defeat the criminal efforts of the traditional organized crime groups, including gambling, extortion, fraud and narcotics.

subpoena - A court order compelling a witness to appear and testify.

subpoena duces tecum - A court order commanding a witness to bring certain documents or records to court.

summons - A writ directing the marshal to notify the person named that an action has been commenced against him in the court, and that he is required to appear and answer the complaint.

suppress - Forbidding the use of evidence at a trial because it is improper or was improperly obtained.

sustain - Court order allowing an objection or motion to prevail.

T

temporary restraining order - Also referred to as a TRO. An action by a court to prohibit a person from an action which is likely to cause irreparable harm to the one seeking the order. This differs from an injunction in that it may be granted immediately, without notice to the opposing party and without a hearing. It is intended to last only until a hearing can be held, 10 days or less.

testimony - Evidence given by a witness under oath. This does not include evidence from documents and other physical exhibits.

transcript - The official record of all testimony and events during a trial or hearing.

trial de novo - A new trial.

true bill - An indictment by a grand jury.

U

USA - United States Attorney. The chief federal trial attorney in a given judicial district. U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President to four-year terms, with the advice and consent of the United States Senate.

USCS - United States Customs Service. Part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

USMS - United States Marshals Service. Part of the U.S. Department of Justice. The nation's oldest federal law enforcement agency.

USPIS - United States Postal Inspection Service. The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service.

USSS - United States Secret Service. Part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

V

vacate - To set aside.

verdict - Conclusion, as to fact or law, that forms the basis for the court's judgment.

venire - A writ summoning persons to court to act as jurors; used to refer to the people summoned for jury duty.

venue - The county, city, or district in which a court with jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter may hear the case.

voir dire - Literally, "to speak the truth." Process of questioning potential jurors so that each side may decide whether to accept or oppose individuals for jury service.

W

WDMO - Abbreviation for Western District of Missouri. May also appear as WDMo.

waiver - Intentionally giving up a right.

waiver of immunity - A means authorized by statute by which a witness, before testifying or producing evidence, may relinquish the right against self-incrimination, thereby making it possible for that testimony to be used against him or her in future proceedings.

warrant - A court order authorizing law enforcement officers to make an arrest or conduct a search.

willful - Done intentionally, without justifiable cause, as distinguished from carelessly or inadvertently.

witness - One who testifies as to what he or she has seen, heard or otherwise experienced.

writ - A judicial order directing a person to perform a specific act.