The Prosecuting Attorney is the lawyer for the people elected by the people. The PA is elected for a 4-year term and is a full-time position. Outside employment is prohibited in Greenbrier County. He/she must be admitted to practice law in West Virginia by the term’s begin date.
The Prosecutor appoints his/her Assitant Prosecutors. This office’s main responsibility is to prosecute all crimes committed within Greenbrier County, both misdemeanors and felonies.
The PA works with law enforcement officers during an investigation of all criminal cases and other law violations. He/she determines if criminal charges should be filed, as well as plea negotiations, pre-trial hearings, trials, sentencing hearings and appeals.
The PA’s office acts as legal advisor to the County Commission and other county officials and is the chief legal officer of Greenbrier County by preparing contracts and other documents. This office has areas of responsibility in both criminal and civil cases; files civil suits for county agencies and defends county agencies in civil actions.
The Prosecuting Attorney tries cases before magistrate and circuit judges; presents information to the Grand Jury for indictment of persons in connection with criminal actitiy; represents the Department of Health and Human Resources in child abuse and neglect cases, as well as child support and represents the State in juvenile delinquency cases.
This office may also be called upon to assist the state Attorney General in state legal actions within the county.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s office must be kept open during elections and be available to advise election officials and/or answer questions from the public.
SECTION I. CRIMINAL ACTS AND THE GREENBRIER COUNTY COURTS
Criminal acts are classified as FELONIES and MISDEMEANORS.
Felony cases are tried in Circuit Court. These are cases of serious criminal acts and carry the possibility of more than one year in prison. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, punishable by a fine and/or up one year’s sentence in the regional jail. Misdemeanor cases are usually tried in Magistrate Court but they can also be tried in Circuit Court.
SECTION II. VICTIMS/WITNESSES RIGHTS
A victim is a person who has suffered because of a(felony) criminal act, who is a member of a deceased victim’s immediate family or is the fiduciary of a victim’s estate. If you are a victim or witness, you have certain rights, protections and remedies. These include:
A. Notification of hearings and other court dates which includes date, time, location and any schedule changes;
B. Notice of plea agreements;
C. Expedient return of property used as evidence;
D. Consultation on your views regarding actions which are taken in your case;
E. If you are a victim of a crime and the defendant is convicted, you have the right to attend and speak at the sentencing hearing. This is your opportunity to tell the Judge how the crime affected you and/or your family.
F. Through the Probation Department you may submit a statement called the Victims Impact Statement. probation Officers provide victims with the information on how this is done. Presentment of a Victim’s Impact Statement to the court also occurs at the sentencing hearing. This is how the victim tells the court about the effect of the crime on the victim and/or family members. It may be written or oral and may include mental and physical suffering as well as financial losses. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE JUDGE WILL LIKELY CONSIDER THE STATEMENT WHEN DECIDING THE DEFENDANTS SENTENCE. Should you choose to exercise your right of submitting a written impact statement, it will be included in the presentence report which is prepared by the Probation Officer and presented to the Court. HOWEVER, THE STATEMENT MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE PROBATION OFFICER, THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEY OR THE VICTIMS LIAISON PRIOR TO THE SENTENCING DATE. Remember, the Impact Statement will be available to the public and the media for inspection.
G. If you suffered losses as the result of a criminal act, you may have REMEDIES FOR RECOVERY.
1. RESTITUTION is the return of stolen property or payment to a victim by the defendant for losses, when physical, psychological or economic injuries have resulted from a criminal act (felony or misdemeanor). Restitution shall be considered and decided by the trial judge when the defendant is found guilty. It is determined at sentencing and is based on information which is included in the Impact Statement. Unfortunately, the court and/or the State of West Virginia cannot ever guarantee that a defendant will or can pay restitution even when ordered to make restitution.
2. CIVIL DAMAGES may be recovered through a civil lawsuit even if the defendant is not found guilty. Consider hiring an attorney to pursue this avenue of recovery.
3. The WEST VIRGINIA CRIME VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND, administered by the Court of claims, makes available payments or reimbursements to innocent victims of crime or their families for certain expenses and/or losses. Compensation may include medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of services or earnings, physical aids such as eyeglasses, dentures, etc., and reasonable attorney fees. To be eligible for this to apply for this compensation, the crime must be reported within 72 hours of its occurrence, the claim filed within two years of the date of the crime and the claimant must fully cooperate with law enforcement officials.
Claim forms are available through the victim liaison or by contacting the:
Crime Victims Compensation Fund
1900 Kanawha Blvd. E., Rm. 6
Charleston, WV 25305-0291
Toll Free (WV only) 1-800-642-8650
The defendant does not have to be found guilty for the victim to receive compensation.
A West Virginia resident who is a victim in a state that does not offer a compensation program may be eligible.
A person may be an eligible victim if he or she tried to prevent injury to another person who was the victim of a criminal act.
There are limits to the monetary amounts that are recoverable.
SECTION III. VICTIM/WITNESS SUPPORT IN THE PROSECUTORS OFFICE
The Prosecuting Attorney and Assistant Prosecutors are the attorneys for the State of West Virginia who present the government’s case against the accused. One of these attorneys will be assigned to your case. The Prosecutor’s Office can help provide the following additional assistance:
A. Communication with officials, law enforcement agencies, victims, witnesses and others involved in the case.
B. Information about the status of the case.
C. Information about support agencies and services.
D. Information and assistance regarding victims compensation, restitution and other recovery remedies.
E. Assistance with preparation of some documents.
F. Assistance with return of property used as evidence.
G. Accompany victims and witnesses to consultations with state attorneys and to court proceedings.
H. Instructions on how to receive information regarding the release, probation, parole or escape of a prisoner.
I. Notice and confirmation of court schedules and changes in those schedules.
J. Assistance and answers to questions by telephone, scheduled appointments, written notices and printed information.
OUR STAFF IS AVAILABLE FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE; HOWEVER, TO SERVE YOU BETTER, YOU MUST PROVIDE US WITH YOUR CURRENT PHONE NUMBER(S) AND MAILING ADDRESS AND NOTIFY US IMMEDIATELY OF ANY CHANGES.
SECTION IV. THE ROLE OF VICTIMS AND WITNESSES
A. Notify your local law enforcement or the prosecutor’s office IMMEDIATELY if you feel threatened, intimidated or harassed because of your involvement in a criminal case. Under the West Virginia State Code, intimidation of a witness is a crime.
B. Pending trial, most defendants are released on bond or their own recognizance. Please discuss this situation with the victims liaison should you have concerns or feel threatened.
C. If you are contacted by the defendant’s lawyer or an investigator for the defendant, it is your right to discuss or refuse to discuss the case. If you do choose to be interviewed, please notify the prosecutor’s office for assistance in preparation for the interview. Tell only the truth as any statement made during the interview, written or spoken, that conflicts with your testimony in court could be used to discredit that testimony.
BEFORE the statement is given, tell the interviewer that you want a copy when it is put in writing.
BEFORE signing the statement, carefully review it and make corrections.
D. While you may talk over the CASE with anyone you choose, USE CAUTION! If you are uncomfortable with any conversation with any person regarding the case, immediately contact the prosecutor’s office.
E. Media interviews are discouraged by the prosecutor because pre-trial publicity may impact the ability of having a fair trial for both the defendant and the State.
F. You should not ask or give information about your TESTIMONY or the testimony of other witnesses.
G. Do not discuss the case or your testimony with any jury member or another witness waiting to testify at any hearing.
H. If you receive a SUBPOENA (a written requirement to appear and testify), failure to appear carries severe penalties. When a hearing is scheduled, arrive promptly. Your testimony may be necessary at any or all of the hearings regarding a criminal case. Notify the prosecutor’s office immediately of any concerns about the scheduling of a court hearing.
When scheduled to appear, please remember that you may have to wait until time for your testimony to be given. Also, the case could be continued or postponed. These situations cannot be determined beforehand and the case may not be concluded as planned.
Occasionally, hearings and trials are rescheduled. The prosecutor’s office will notify you as soon as possible if this happens.
Always testify truthfully. Listen to the questions and answer them to the best of your ability but do not volunteer information. Ask to have a question repeated if you do not understand. Control your emotions. If an attorney “objects, do not continue with your testimony until instructed to do so by the judge. Speak clearly and loud enough for the court to hear. If you become tired, ask the judge for a “time out but do not leave the court until you are dismissed.
You may request that all parties who are not involved with the case be removed from the courtroom should you feel uncomfortable about possible testimony. The decision to close the courtroom rests with the judge.
I. When evidential or stolen property is recovered or seized and held by officials, it may b:i:possible to regain possession of the property before the case is concluded. Law enforcement officers or the prosecuting attorney’s office can assist in regaining your property as soon as possible.
J. Witness fees may be obtained by applying to the clerk of the court for each day which you are requested to appear. You may be eligible for some travel expenses if you must travel from another county to testify. These expenses are also submitted to the clerk of the court.
SECTION V. THE PROCESS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE WHEN A CRIME OCCURS
A. An ARREST is officially taking a person into custody to answer criminal charges. A suspect may be arrested with or without a WARRANT (permission given by a judge or magistrate to arrest ).
B. The suspects INITIAL APPEARANCE occurs as soon as possible after arrest and is held before a magistrate. The magistrate explains the charges, advises the accused of his or her rights and usually will set BOND (the defendant’s written agreement, secured by property, to ensure his or her return for court appearances); however, if the crime is punishable by a sentence of life in prison, only a Circuit Judge may set bond.
The bond may be conditional; for example, by law, the restrictions must include absolutely no contact with the victim if the victim is a minor. When bond is conditional the victim has the right to receive a copy of the bond by requesting the copy from the clerk of the court.
C. ARRAIGNMENT is the hearing at which the accused enters a plea of guilty or not guilty and if financially unable to retain a lawyer (INDIGENT) the court will appoint one. Also, in misdemeanor cases a hearing date is scheduled. In felony cases a date is set for a PRELIMINARY or PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING.
D. Preliminary hearings are held to establish the belief (probable cause) that a felony occurred and that the accused committed that crime. If probable cause is determined, the case is bound over” and then may be presented to the Grand Jury at a future session. The prosecuting attorney may choose to dismiss a case before the preliminary hearing, however, this does not mean that the case cannot be presented to the Grand Jury .If, at the preliminary hearing, the magistrate does not find probable cause and dismisses the case, the accused will be released from jail or bond. The case may still be presented before the Grand Jury at a later date.
E. In felony cases, before the case can proceed to Circuit Court, the defendant must be either INDICTED (formally charged) by the Grand Jury or WAIVE (give up) the right to have the case considered by the Grand Jury.
F. PLEA BARGAINS are discussions or agreements between the prosecuting attorney and the defendant’s attorney and are viewed as useful and fair methods of processing cases through the criminal justice system. Plea bargains settle many criminal cases without going to trial. Some factors considered may include the seriousness of the crime and possible sentence, the weight of admissible evidence, the effect of the offense and the possible effect of a trial on the victim.
G. PRE-TRIAL HEARINGS, held before a trial date, may be scheduled to resolve issues, determine admissible evidence and address other procedural matters.
H. Prior to a JURY TRIAL, a panel of qualified jury members, called the PETIT JURY, is selected to hear and decide the outcome of the case. This process is called VOIR DIRE. The jury consists of twelve members in a felony case and usually six members in a misdemeanor case. Sometimes alternates are also selected who would serve in the event one of the original jurors could not finish the trial.
I. On the date and time the trial is scheduled, ALL persons involved with the case must appear promptly and report to the designated courtroom which appears on the subpoena. There may be a waiting period before you testify and you will not be admitted to the courtroom until that appearance takes place. The purpose of being SEQUESTERED (separated) prior to testifying is to avoid
witnesses from influencing each other by the evidence that may be presented during testimony.
J. The trial begins with OPENING ARGUMENTS which are presented by attorneys for each side of the case. These arguments indicate what the attorneys intend to prove or disprove and the legal issue( s) on which the case is based. Although the defense has the opportunity to present an opening argument, it is not mandatory .This is because the burden rests on the State to prove its case. The defendant does not have to put on any evidence.
The states’ attorney is first to present its case through testimony and evidence. The defendants’ attorney then presents his or her case. They do not have to put on witnesses if they do not choose to do so. Likewise, the defendant does not have to testify. After the cases are heard, rebuttal testimony may be offered by each attorney.
After the jury receives instructions from the judge and closing arguments are heard the case is submitted to the jury for its consideration and VERDICT (decision of guilty or not guilty).
K. In a BENCH TRIAL the above process is followed except there is no jury and the presiding judge
determines the verdict.
L. SENTENCING (the penalty for the crime) is pronounced immediately in most misdemeanor and some felony cases. Often, however, the court orders a PRESENTENCE INVESTIGATION AND REPORT in felony cases. This report will include the Victim Impact Statement and any previous criminal record the defendant may have. In deciding sentences, the judge will consider the report and other factors such as the severity of the crime and the time that may be imposed as penalty. In some cases the Court may place a defendant directly on Probation to be supervised by the Court’s Probation Department instead of going to jail or prison.
M. A person convicted of a crime may be released, conditionally, from confinement on PAROLE. The Parole Board conducts the hearing and decides parole. The prisoner may request an “open” or “closed” hearing. If the hearing is open the victim or a family member may attend and speak to the parole board.
To be notified of a hearing and/or to appear before the parole board a request must be submitted to:
112 California Ave.
Charleston, WV 25305
Also, to be notified of the prisoner’s release from confinement, a request must be submitted to the parole board which must have your current address.
SECTION VI. THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Victims of juvenile crime have a different legal process to follow, BUT THEIR VOICES WILL STILL BE HEARD.
A. Overview of the Juvenile Criminal Justice System
1. When a juvenile is accused of a crime, he or she has the benefit of legal protections that are significantly different from the standards for adults.
a. They may not be placed in jail pending the outcome of case.
b. They may not be detained unless a violent crime was committed.
c. All juvenile proceedings are closed to the public.
d. Juveniles always have court appointed council.
e. Emphasis is placed on reform of the juvenile offenders.
f. The court considers the least restrictive alternative when deciding where to place a juvenile. The court must also consider the juvenile’s “best interests.”
g. Juveniles convicted of a crime cannot be committed to jail or prison unless they are transferred (by court order) and tried as adults.
B. General Juvenile Provisions
1. A juvenile is anyone less than eighteen years of age. However, a person between the age of eighteen and twenty years may receive some of the same protections as juveniles. The court may give these persons “youthful offender status.” This means that an offender between eighteen and twenty may be sent to a rehabilitation and education facility (Anthony Center) instead of being sentenced to jail or prison.
2. A juvenile may be charged with committing a status offense. This is a charge of incorrigibility which means that the person is habitually beyond the control of his or her parent, guardian or custodian. Status offenses include truancy, running away from home or incorrigibility.
3. A juvenile charged with a crime is actually accused of being a delinquent child. For example, if a juvenile is charged with battery and admits to the crime, the juvenile will be adjudicated a delinquent by virtue of the battery offense. The juvenile is not actually convicted of a battery. This seemingly minor distinction has major implications. The conviction will be expunged by operation of law one year after the juvenile reaches eighteen and the records will be sealed by court order. There is no public record of the conviction. There is no public access to these juvenile records without an additional order by the judge to open the sealed records.
An exception to the sealed records protection allows disclosure of some records to specified school officials. The offense must have been a felony if it had been committed by an adult and must involve violence, possession of a deadly weapon or possession of a controlled substance. These records are confidential and may not be transmitted from school to school, to college or placed on the juvenile’s permanent record. A victim of a crime will not have access to these records, but should know that some school officials have access to them.
C. Juvenile Proceedings and How They Are Conducted
- Juvenile proceedings begin with a Petition being filed by the complainant with the Putnam County Sheriff or the Prosecuting Attorney. If the juvenile is arrested, a Detention Hearing will be held before a magistrate or juvenile referee. This hearing determines if the offense was violent or dangerous. A juvenile may be detained in a secure facility only if the magistrate concludes the juvenile is a threat to the community or to himself.
- A Probable Cause” hearing is then held to establish that a crime was committed and the juvenile was involved with committing the crime. If probable cause is not established, the petition will be dismissed. If probable cause is found by the judge, the juvenile is then scheduled for an Adjudicatory Hearing.
- At the Adjudicatory Hearing, the juvenile admits or denies the charges. If the juvenile admits to the charges, the matter is set for a Disposition Hearing. If the charges are denied, the case will be tried. Like adults, the case will be tried before a jury or a circuit court judge. The prosecutor must prove the charge “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Upon conviction, the matter is set for a Disposition Hearing.
- Sentence is imposed at the Disposition Hearing. A report may be prepared by the juvenile probation officer to assist the judge in deciding the appropriate sentence.
The judge will order a Multi Disciplinary Task Force (MDT) to be convened. In that case, the MDT will meet and will have input into the disposition of the case. MDTs consist of the juvenile probation officer, the juvenile’s attorney, the prosecuting attorney, a DHHR representative, the parents and health care professionals. The sentence itself may range from probation to placement in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Resources (D.H.H.R. ). In more serious cases, the judge can order the juvenile placed in a D.H.H.R. facility away from his or her family order a diagnostic evaluation or in the most serious cases, juveniles may be sentenced to Salem Industrial Home, a secure facility for juveniles. A sentence to Salem may last until the juvenile turns eighteen and may be extended by the judge to run through the juvenile’s twentieth birthday.
D. Transferring a Juvenile to Adult Status.
The law recognizes that some crimes are so vicious or dangerous that the juvenile may be treated as an adult. These crimes may include murder, robbery with a :firearm, drug dealing, kidnapping or sexual assault. The procedure for a juvenile who has committed a transferable offense begins the same as any other juvenile matter. In the Preliminary Hearing, the prosecutor must establish probable cause that the crime was committed. If probable cause is found and the prosecutor elects to transfer the juvenile to adult status, a Transfer Hearing is conducted. These hearings are closed to the public and held in circuit court. The state’s case is presented by the prosecuting attorney. If there is a successful transfer, the juvenile will be tried as an adult and will be subject to the same penalties. Upon transfer to adult status, the juvenile’s case is presented to the Grand Jury. If an indictment is returned, an arraignment is held in which a plea (by the juvenile) is entered. If the juvenile pleads “not guilty, the case is scheduled for a trial. If convicted, the judge will pronounce sentence. Possible sentences include probation, the Anthony Center, the regional jail or a State prison.
E. Victims’ Rights in a Juvenile Hearing
A victim may be requested to testify at the trial and at other proceedings. Victims may remain in the courtroom if the judge permits, but they do not have an absolute right to be present, unless the juvenile is transferred to adult status.
Victims may be excluded from the courtroom if they are potential witnesses, Prior to testimony a witness may not hear the other witnesses testify. Once a witness completes their testimony, he or she may stay in the courtroom if the judge permits.
A victim of a juvenile crime will have input in the sentencing and will be heard at the Dispositional Hearing. The juvenile probation department investigates the disposition of the case and should contact the victim. If the juvenile is transferred to adult status, the adult pro bation department will contact the victim. Also, those victims will have the rights ensured by the Victim Protection Act as discussed at Section II of this handbook.
This brief overview of the juvenile system is designed to familiarize victims of juvenile crime with the general principles governing juvenile law, Please contact the victims liaison or the prosecuting attorney in charge of the case if there are questions or concerns.
SECTION VI: LEGAL TERMS FOR NON-LAWYERS
ACQUIT: a decision of not guilty when a person is tried for an illegal action
AFFIDAVIT: a signed written statement to which the person giving the statement swears it to be true
ALLEGED: a charge has not been proved
ARRAIGNMENT: a suspects first/initial appearance in court at which time the charges are explained, the accused is allowed to plead guilty or not guilty, is advised of his or her rights and may include setting of bond
BAIL: real or personal property assigned as security with the court to ensure that a person released from custody will appear at subsequent proceedings
BENCH TRIAL: a trial held without a jury and the judge finds the defendant guilty or not guilty
BOND: the written agreement which is secured by bail (see BAIL)
CAPITOL OFFENSE: punishable by life sentence
CHARGE: to bring a formal accusation against a certain person for a specific crime
CODE: the collective system of all the laws/statutes in an area
COMPLAINT: a written accusation which is presented to an officer or a court and begins the prosecution of a person for a crime
CONCURRENT SENTENCE: occurs when more than one sentence is served by a prisoner at the same time
CONSECUTIVE SENTENCE: occurs when one sentence is served after another by a prisoner
CONTEMPT OF COURT: an act which disregards a court order, disrespects or is meant to hinder the power of a court
CONTINUANCE: a hearing is rescheduled
CONVICTION: the result of a defendant being judged guilty of the crime for which he or she is tried
COUNT(S): the different offense(s) of which a person is accused
CRIMINAL: a person who has been judged guilty of committing an illegal act
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: the complete governmental organization responsible for the administration of justice when a criminal act has occurred
DEFENDANT: a person formally charged with a criminal act
DELINQUENT: a minor (person under 18 years of age) who has been convicted or is adjudicated of an illegal act
DEPOSITION: testimony reduced to writing, given by a party under oath and out of court; may be entered as evidence at trial
DETENTION: held in custody
DISCOVERY: the disclosure or exchange of information between the prosecution and the defendants’ attorney
DISMISS: charges are dropped or may be delayed until a later date
DISPOSITION : the final result of a case
DOCKET: a list of cases scheduled for trial
EVIDENCE: information presented at a court proceeding to prove or disprove an allegation and may include objects, documents and/or testimony
EXONERATE: to free or clear from suspicion of a crime
EXTRADITE: to move a person from one jurisdiction to another to stand trial or serve a sentence for a crime
FELONY: an unlawful act which is punishable by a sentence of more than one years confinement in the penitentiary
GRAND JURY: a group of qualified persons selected and sworn to examine preliminary evidence to formally charge (indict) or dismiss the criminal charges against the accused; in Putnam County, the Grand Jury convenes three times a year
GUILTY PLEA: admission by the accused that he or she is responsible for the crime with which he or she is charged
IMPANEL: to comprise a list of prospective jurors or to select those jurors
IMPEACH: to challenge the truthfulness or credibility of a witness
IN CAMERA: a hearing held in the judge’s office or in court without spectators
INCOMPETENCY: declaration of mental inability to make rational decisions which legally disqualifies a person from responsibility for his or her behavior
INCRIMINATE: to indicate guilt or responsibility for a crime
INDECENT: offensive to the recognized standards of behavior
INDETERMINATE (sentence): prison sentence which carries a maximum and minimum term but does not impose the specific time period the prisoner must serve
INDICTMENT: the formal written accusation issued by a Grand Jury charging the accused with a crime
INFORMATION: a formal criminal charge, brought by the prosecuting attorney, against a person; it is filed with a court and initiates the courts’ proceeding without a Grand Jury indictment
INITIAL APPEARANCE: the first appearance before a magistrate to have charges and rights explained and possibly have bond set
INJUNCTION: a court order which compels a person to do or refrain from doing a particular thing
INSANITY: the degree of mental illness that diminishes rational conduct
INSTRUCTIONS (to the Jury): the judge’s summary and explanation to the jury which may include legal issues to be decided, how to reach those decisions and the degree of proof necessary to convict a defendant
INVESTIGATION: the collection of all types of information to prove or disprove facts or allegations
JUDGE: the person who presides over court proceedings in felony cases, misdemeanor appeals and in some juvenile matters (see also Magistrate )
JURISDICTION: a particular area over which a court or an official has authority to interpret and/or
JURY: a selected, impartial panel of qualified persons sworn in to determine a decision by hearing evidence presented in a legal proceeding
JURY SELECTION (VOIR DIRE): the examination of proposed jurors by the attorneys and judge to determine if those persons are legally qualified to decide the verdict ( outcome) of a criminal case
JUVENILE: a person under 18 years of age
JUVENILE PETITION: a document (paper) that states the charge against the juvenile
KNOWINGLY : willfully and with full knowledge
MAGISTRATE: an elected official who presides over Misdemeanor cases, preliminary hearings, some juvenile matters and may set bond except in capital crimes
MISDEMEANOR: an unlawful act which, generally, is punishable by sentence of less than one year of confinement and/or a fine
MISTRIAL: a trial that ends with no legal effect because of a major defect in the proceedings; these cases may be retried
MOTION: an oral or written appeal to the court to take an action
NOLO CONTENDERE (NO CONTEST): a persons formal plea/response to criminal charges in which he or she does not admit guilt but does submit to the punishment of the crime
NOT GUILTY PLEA: a person’s formal response that the criminal charges against him or her are not true and must be proven by the state
OATH: a sworn promise that a person will tell the truth
OBJECTION: to declare that an action, question or statement is improper and appeal to the judge to rule on the issue
OFFICER OF THE COURT: a judge, clerk, lawyer, bailiff, deputy or other court employee
ORDER: a direction given by a court usually in writing
OVERRULE: a judges’ decision against an objection
PARDON : the power of an official, such as the president or governor, to free a person from punishment for a crime
PAROLE: the conditional release of a prisoner before the full sentence is served
PENAL CODE: laws that relate to crimes and their punishment
PERJURY: criminal act of lying under oath
PETIT JURY: a trial jury consisting of six or twelve persons chosen to hear and impartially decide the verdict of a case
PLEA: a person’s formal answer to the criminal charges against him or her
PLEA BARGAIN: an agreement between the state and the defendant in which the defendant admits guilt of a crime in exchange for leniency by the state
PRELIMINARY (PROBABLE CAUSE) HEARING: in felony cases, held in magistrate court to establish if evidence is sufficient for the state to continue its case against the accused
PROBATION : the system of conditional, supervised freedom from confinement for a person found guilty of a crime
PRESENTENCE INVESTIGATION AND REPORT: an investigation to inform the court of a defendants background and criminal history which is submitted prior to sentencing; the report also includes the Victim Impact Statement
PROCEEDING: an action in a court of law
PROOF: a supporting body of evidence which demonstrates that a contention is true
PROSECUTE: to charge and bring a person to trial in a criminal court of law
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: the attorney elected to represent the state and present it’s cases against the accused through the criminal justice system
RECOGNIZANCE: releasing, without requiring bond, a person accused of a crime
RECORD: an official, complete written history of all actions taken in a criminal proceeding
REVOCATION HEARING: held to withdraw a persons parole or probation because that person allegedly violated the conditions of parole or probation
RULING: a judges’ decision on a legal issue raised in a court proceeding
SENTENCE: the punishment imposed on a person declared guilty of a crime
SEQUESTER (a jury): to isolate the jury from any communication with other during a trial (a witness): to isolate a witness from other witnesses’ testimony during a trial
STATEMENT: to express orally, in writing or by conduct an assertion of fact
STATES EVIDENCE: testimony by a person involved in a crime given for the prosecution against others involved in the same crime
STATUTE: any law passed by a governing body
SUBPOENA: a court’s written order informing a person that he or she must appear in court to testify
in a proceeding
SUBSTANTIATE: to prove or verify
SUMMONS: a written order informing a person that he or she must appear in court and answer the charges against that person
SUSPECT: a person who may have committed a crime
SUSPENDED SENTENCE: a sentence given upon conviction of a crime but not actually served
SUSTAIN: the judges’ ruling in a court proceeding which agrees with an attorney who has raised a legal issue
TESTIMONY: evidence given under oath by a witness to prove or disprove an allegation
TRANSCRIPT: the official written account of a court proceeding
TRIAL: the proceeding in a court of law in which facts and issues are examined and determined for the finding of a verdict
VENUE: the location in which a trial is to proceed
VICTIM’S LIAISON: a member of the prosecuting attorney’s staff who assists victims and witnesses of criminal acts as their cases proceed through the criminal justice system
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT: a statement, oral or written, given by the victim of a crime, which is presented to the court for it’s consideration prior to sentencing a person convicted of a crime
VOIR DIRE: see jury selection
WAIVE: voluntarily and with full knowledge giving up a right, privilege or benefit
WARRANT: a written authorization given by a judge or magistrate to a law enforcement officer to arrest a person suspected of having committed a crime or to conduct a search
WITNESS: a person who can give testimony to furnish proof of an allegation or issue mentioned
WRIT: a written order issued by the court directing that a person do or refrain from doing a certain thing.
THIS HANDBOOK IS PROVIDED AS A TOOL TO AID VICTIMS AND WITNESSES OF CRIME AS THEIR CASES PROGRESS THROUGH THE LEGAL PROCESS………….
Please contact the prosecuting attorney’s office for continued support and assistance.