absolute discharge
a discharge that has no conditions attached

absolute liability offence
an offence for which no mens rea need be established and which allows no defense

accused
a person charged with a criminal offence; the defendant

a wrongful act

adversary system
a method of trying legal cases that involves two sides contesting the issue before a third, impartial, party who will decide the case

age of majority
the age at which a person can undertake legal obligations (in Alberta 18)

alibi
the defense that an accused can prove that he or she was elsewhere at the time the offence was committed

appearance notice
a handwritten document given to a suspect that outlines the charges against the suspect and states when he or she is to appear in court

appellant
the party making an appeal

appellate court
a court in which an appeal is being launched

arraign
to formally read to an accused the charge that he or she must face

arrest
deprive a suspect of his or her liberty in order to answer charges in court

attempt
a criminal offence that is committed when a person tries but fails to commit a crime

automatism
the defense that an act was committed when the accused wasn't conscious of what was going on

bail
money held to guarantee that an accused will appear at a later hearing

bylaw
a written law passed by a municipal government

challenge for cause
a challenge to the suitability of a possible juror on the grounds that he or she doesn't meet the required standards for impartiality

character evidence
evidence designed to show that someone has a good or bad character

charge to the jury
a talk a judge give to the jury before it retires for deliberation in which the judge discusses evidence and explains relevant law

circumstantial evidence
indirect evidence; for example, evidence given by a person who didn't actually witness the event

civil law
the branch of law that governs the relations between individuals

common law
the body of law that gradually developed as judges in English courts made decisions in the cases they heard

community service
a type of sentencing in which a judge orders an offender to do some specific work in the community

conditional discharge
a discharge with conditions attached

the release of a prisoner before his or her sentence is over if certain conditions are met

conspiracy
a criminal offence that occurs when two or more people seriously plan to commit a crime

crime
an act or an omission that, because it poses a significant threat to society, is forbidden by law for which the state has the power to punish

criminal law
the branch of law that sets out certain acts as crimes and punishes those who commit them

crown prosecutor
a lawyer employed by the government to prosecute those accused of criminal and quasi-criminal offences

defense counsel
a lawyer representing a defendant

defendant
in criminal cases, a person charged with an offence; the accused

the act of keeping a person in custody

detention centre
a provincially operated institution that houses prisoners with sentences of up to 30 days

deterrence
the sentencing objective of discouraging others from committing a similar offence by the severity of the penalty involved

direct evidence
evidence given by a person who actually witnessed the event

directed verdict
a verdict of acquittal that a judge instructs a jury to reach if the Crown doesn't prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

discharge
a type of sentencing that involves no conviction being recorded against the accused

disclosure
the process whereby the Crown presents its case, and the evidence on which it is based, to the defense prior to the trial

diversion program
a sentence that offers an alternative to putting offenders in jail

double jeopardy
the law preventing a person from being tried twice for the same offence

duress
the defense that an accused was forced by another into committing an offence by the threat or use of violence

duty counsel
a lawyer on duty at court and the police station to give legal advice to those who need it

entrapment
the process of persuading a person into committing a crime and then charging that person with an offence

examination-in-chief
the first examination of a witness during a trial

extrajudicial sanctions programs
programs whereby some young offenders can omit to having committed a crime and then do something to compensate for it rather than go to court

fine option program
a sentencing program that allow offenders to pay off a fine by doing community work

general-intent offence
a crime for which it is necessary to establish only that the offender intended the deed in order to establish mens rea

a place for prisoners to stay when on day parole or a temporary absence that offers greater freedom than prison along with the supervision needed as prisoners re-adjust to society

hearsay evidence
evidence of what another person said or wrote

hung jury
a jury in a criminal trial that cannot agree on a verdict

hybrid offence
a criminal offence for which the Crown can choose to proceed by way of indictment or summary conviction

incarceration
imprisonment

indeterminate sentence
a prison sentence used with dangerous offenders whereby convicts are held until they are no longer considered a threat to society

indictable offence
a serious criminal offence for which the Crown proceeds by way of indictment

information
a sworn document stating that the police have reasonable grounds for suspecting a person of having committed an offence

intent
a state of mind in which a person wants to do something and can foresee the results

intermittent sentence
a prison sentence an offender can serve at intervals, often on weekends

jail
technically, a place of temporary detention such as a remand centre; colloquially, any correctional institution

job profile
is a concise summary of an occupation that describes its important aspects

justice of the peace
a judicial officer who does such things as issue arrest warrants, administer oaths, and deal with the release from custody of an accused

knowledge
the understanding of an action that is necessary to establish mens rea

legislation
a law or laws that have been passed by a governing body

a guilty mind; usually an intention to commit a wrongful act

mistake of fact
the defense that an act was committed because an accused genuinely mistook the facts of the situation

motive
a person's reason for committing an offence

necessity
the defense that an accused had no choice other than to commit an offence

onus of proof
the responsibility of proving something in court

opinion evidence
evidence consisting only of what someone thinks about a set of facts

penitentiary
a federally operated institution that houses prisoners with sentences of two years or more

plea negotiation (or plea bargaining)
an informal pre-trial that usually results in the accused's pleading guilty to a lesser offence in return for a lighter sentence

polygraph
lie detector

pre-sentence report
a report on the accused's background that is prepared to help the judge in sentencing

precedent
a court decision used as the basis for future decisions in similar cases

pre-emptory challenge
a challenge to the suitability of a possible juror for which no reason need be given

preliminary hearing
a hearing held before a trial for a serious indictable offence to determine whether the case is strong enough to proceed with a trial

prison
technically, a provincially operated institution that houses prisoners with sentences of more than 30 days and up to 2 years less a day; colloquially, any correctional institution

a communication between two or more people that can't be required as evidence in a court of law

probation
a type of sentencing whereby a convicted offender is released on certain conditions

probation order
a court order whereby a convicted offender returns to the community under the supervision of a probation officer

protective custody
in a correctional institution, the segregation of prisoners deemed to be at risk from the general inmate population

rebuttal evidence
evidence given in order to counter evidence presented by the other side

recklessness
a mental attitude whereby no attention is paid to the possible consequences of an act

recognizance
a court document stating that an accused understands that he or she is accused of a crime and that he or she must attend court

rehabilitation
the sentencing objective of helping offenders turn their lives around and become productive members of society

remand centre
detention centre

respondent
the party opposing an appeal

restitution
the performance of some action with the intention of paying back someone you have wronged

restorative justice programs
programs that emphasize healing, forgiveness, and community involvement in dealing with crime

retribution
the sentencing objective of simply paying back wrongdoers for the harm they have done

search warrant
a document issued by a justice of the peace or a judge authorizing the police to search a building, receptacle, or place

segregation
the sentencing objective of keeping offenders away from the rest of society to protect society from them

giving evidence that indicates your own guilt

sequester
keep a jury isolated from the outside world until it reaches a decision

similar fact evidence
evidence showing that an accused had committed similar crimes in the past

specific-intent offence
a crime that requires the wrong-doer to have intended to commit yet another offence

statute
a law passed by a governing body

strict liability offence
an offence for which no mens rea need be established but for which an accused may be allowed the defense that reasonable preventative steps were
taken

a relatively minor criminal offence

summons
an order to appear in court

surrebuttal evidence
evidence given in order to counter rebuttal evidence

suspended sentence
a judgement whereby if an offender meets certain conditions, no sentence is given

trial de novo
a completely new trial ordered by an appellate court

undertaking
a court document containing conditions an accused agrees to upon release, pending a hearing

victim impact statement
a statement made by the victim of a crime about the effect the crime has had on his or her life to assist the judge in deciding on a sentence

voir dire
trial within a trial to decide on the admissibility of certain evidence

warrant for arrest
a court order giving the police the right to arrest a suspect and bring him or her before the courts

willful blindness
the failure to make an inquiry, knowing that you should, because you don’t want to know the truth

a court document demanding that the Crown show why a accused is being held