Criminal Case Definitions — Commonly Used Legal Words and Phrases

  • Criminal Case Definitions — Commonly Used Legal Words and Phrases

A /

Accessory — a person that helps someone else commit a crime, either before or after the crime.

Accomplice — a person who knowingly and voluntarily participates with another, having the specific intent to help them commit a crime.

Acquittal — a jury verdict that a criminal defendant is “not guilty.”

Active jail term (see also “suspended jail term”) — the actual time someone is sentenced to serve in a jail or on electronic monitoring.

Adult – a person who is reached the age of majority (in Alaska 18-years-old).

Affirmative defense — a defense raised such as self-defense, insanity, duress or alibi.

Age of consent — the legal age at which a minor can consent to sexual relations (in Alaska 16-years-old unless the defendant is in a “position of authority,” than the age of consent is 18-years-old).

Aggravating factor (regarding sentencing) — circumstances that can justify a judge increasing someone’s sentence above the normal range (see Alaska statute 12.55.155).

Aid and abet — to actively, knowingly, or intentionally assist another person in the commission or attempted commission of a crime.

Alibi — a defense claim that the accused was somewhere else at the time a crime was committed, therefore he or she could not have committed the crime.

Ankle monitoring (also “electronic monitoring”) — an alternative to jail incarceration, essentially involving house arrest with an electronic monitor usually around one’s ankle.

Arraignment — a proceeding in which a criminal defendant is brought into court, told of the charges in an information or indictment, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty; also, his charges and rights are explained to the defendant if they wish.

Arrest — “The taking of a person into custody in order that the person may be held to answer for the commission of a crime. (Alaska statute 12.25.160)

Arrest warrant — a written order which is made on behalf of the state and is based upon a complaint issued pursuant to statute and/or court rule and which commands law enforcement officers to arrest a person and bring him before a judge or magistrate.

Arson — the crime of starting or causing an explosion or fire with the purpose of destroying a building or occupied structure or the property of another.

Assault — an attempt or threat to inflict injury upon the person of another coupled with an apparent present ability to do so, and any display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm.

Attempt — with intent to commit a crime the person engages in conduct which constitutes a substantial step towards the commission of that crime. (Alaska statute 11.31.100)

B /

Bail — (Verb) to procure the release of one charged with an offense by ensuring his future attendance in court and compelling him to remain within the jurisdiction of the court.

Bail bond — a written undertaking executed by the defendant or his surety that the defendant will, while at liberty, appear in a designated criminal action when his attendance is required and render himself amenable to the orders of the court.

Bail exoneration — the return of any money posted as bail at the completion of the case during which the defendant complied with all of the rules and laws.

Bail forfeiture — a failure to perform the conditions of bail, and the money put up for bail is transferred to the state.

Battery — the unlawful application of force to another.

Bench warrant — process issued by the court itself for the arrest of a person.

Beyond a reasonable doubt — the standard in a criminal case requiring that the jury is satisfied to a moral certainty that every element of the crime has been proven by the prosecution. It does not require that the state established absolute certainty by eliminating all possible doubt, but it does require the evidence be so conclusive that all reasonable doubts are removed from the mind of the ordinary person.

Bill of particulars — a statement of the details of the charge made against the defendant.

Bind over — to hold a person for trial on bail or in jail.

Blood test — testing one’s blood sample to (1) see how much of a certain chemical or drug is in the blood; or, (2) see who is the parent of a child.

Booking — the process of photographing, fingerprinting, and recording identifying data of a suspect (which may include DNA testing in certain circumstances).

Breath test — testing one’s breath to see how much alcohol is in their blood by inference.

Burglary (as opposed to “robbery”) — the act of the illegal entry into a dwelling or building with the intent to commit a crime inside (under Alaska law, the intent to commit the crime must be at the time the person breaks the threshold of the dwelling or building).

C /

Capital offense — a crime punishable by death (under Alaska law, there is no death penalty; however, a person could commit a crime in Alaska and be charged by the federal government and possibly receive the death penalty).

Carnal knowledge — sexual intercourse.

Certification — regarding documents it involves a seal required by law or regulation of fixed to a public document to attest to its authenticity, or to a general document to attest that the document was notarized by an authorized official.

Citation — a court order or summons that tells a defendant with the charges are, and usually tells the defendant to go to court and/or post bail by a certain date.

Clear and convincing evidence — that degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the allegations sought to be established (it is more than a preponderance of the evidence, but less than beyond a reasonable doubt).

Clemency (also “executive clemency”) — the act of grace and mercy by the governor to ease the consequences of a criminal act, accusation, or conviction (sometimes known as commutation or pardon).

Community service — special conditions imposed by the court that requires an individual to work without pay for a nonprofit organization (sometimes in lieu of jail).

Commutation (see “clemency”)

Complaint (see also “information”) — a charging document in a criminal case.

Concurrent sentences — prison terms for two or more offenses to be served at the same time, rather than one after the other (which is known as consecutive sentences).

Consecutive sentences — prison terms for two or more offenses to be served one after the other, rather than at the same time (which is known as concurrent sentences).

Consent — as used in criminal law, consent means a voluntary and willful submission, to sexual contact or penetration, under the circumstances which is not based on the influence of fear or terror.

Conspiracy — a confederacy between two or more people formed for the purpose of committing by their joint efforts some unlawful or criminal act.

Constructive possession — the condition in which a person does not have physical custody or possession, but is in a position to exercise dominion or control over a thing.

Controlled substances — any drug designated by federal or state law as a “controlled substance” (see federal Controlled Substance Act or Alaska criminal statute 11.71.900(5)).

Conversion — an unauthorized assumption and exercise of the right of ownership over goods or personal property belonging to another.

Conviction — a judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant (or when a jury finds the defendant guilty

Count — an allegation in an indictment or information charging the defendant with the crime. An indictment or information may contain allegations that the defendant committed more than one crime; each allegation is referred to as a count.

Court-appointed attorney — attorney appointed by the court to represent the defendant usually with respect to criminal charges and without the defendant having to pay for the representation upfront (although in Alaska criminal rule 39 requires the defendant to pay a small fee depending on whether it was a misdemeanor or a felony and their ability to pay).

Crime against property — robbery, burglary, theft, and arson are all examples of crimes against property.

Crime against the person — homicide in any degree, sexual assaults, sexual abuse of a minor, and other assaults are all examples of crimes against the person.

Crime Involving Domestic Violence (or “domestic violence”) — in Alaska, this means any of the following offenses, or an attempt to commit the offense, by a “household member against another household member”: any crime against the person under Alaska statute 11.41; burglary; criminal trespass; arson or criminal negligent burning; criminal mischief; terrorist threatening; violating a protective order; harassment under Alaska statute 11.61.1 20 (a)(2)—(4); or, cruelty to animals if the animal is a pet.

Criminal mischief (also see “vandalism”) — the intentional destruction or significant interference with another’s property.

Custodial interference — a relative of a child under 18 years of age, knowing that the person has no legal right to do so, takes, entices, or keeps that child from a lawful custodian with intent to hold the child for a protracted period.

Custody — detaining of a person by lawful process or authority to assure his appearance to any hearing; the jailing or imprisonment of a person convicted of a crime.

Cybercrime — in general, criminal activities carried out by means of computers or the Internet.

D /

Dangerous instrument — any deadly weapon or anything that under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury; or hands or other objects when used to impede normal breathing or circulation of blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or obstructing the nose or mouth.

Deadly force — force that the person uses with the intent of causing, or knows creates a substantial risk of causing, death or serious physical injury; this includes intentionally discharging or pointing a firearm in the direction of another person or in the direction which another person is believed to be an intentionally placing another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury by means of a dangerous instrument.

Deadly weapon — any firearm, or anything designed for incapable of causing death or serious physical injury, including a knife, acts, club, metal knuckles, or explosive.

Decedent — a person that died.

Defendant — a person charged with a crime.

Defensive weapon — an electric stun gun, or a device to dispense masonry similar chemical agent, that is not designed to cause death or serious physical injury.

Defense of Abandonment — personal property which the owner has relinquished all right, title, claim, and possession, with the intention of not reclaiming it or resuming its ownership, possession or enjoyment.

Defense of Consent —— as used in the criminal law, consent means a voluntary and willful submission, to sexual contact or penetration, under the circumstances which are not based on the influence of fear or terror.

Defense of Entrapment — the act of officers or agents of the government inducing a person to commit a crime not contemplated by him, for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him.

Defense of Insanity — a person not responsible for criminal conduct because at the time of such conduct, as a result of mental disease or defect, he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality (wrongfulness) of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.

Defense of Intoxication — a person not responsible for criminal conduct because at the time of such conduct, as a result of drinking alcohol, he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality (wrongfulness) of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law; an Alaska law, this can only be used to negate intentional conduct, not negligent, reckless, or knowing conduct.

Defense of Mistake Of Fact — a mistake not caused by the neglect of a legal duty on the part of the person making the mistake in consisting in an unconscious ignorance or forgetfulness of the fact, past or present, material to the conduct; or, belief in the present existence of the thing material to the conduct which does not exist.

Defense of Mistake of Law — when a party having full knowledge of the facts comes to an erroneous conclusion as to their legal effect; however, it is often the case that ignorance of the law is no excuse, although there are some exceptions (such as some crimes Malum Prohibitum and some crimes of omission).

Defense of Necessity — a person may be excused from criminal liability if he acts under a duress of circumstances to protect life or limb or help any reasonable manner and with no other acceptable choice.

Defense of Others — a type of defense of necessity, wherein a person may be excused from criminal liability for using force on a person while defending another person (similar to self-defense).

Defense of Property — affirmative defense in criminal law where force was used to protect one’s property.

Defense of Self (also “self-defense”) — the claim that an act otherwise criminal was legally justifiable because it was necessary to protect the personal property from the threat or action of another.

Deferred prosecution (see also “suspended imposition of sentence”) — a voluntary alternative to an adjudication of a crime in which a prosecutor agrees to grant amnesty or a dismissal in exchange for the defendant agreeing to fulfill certain requirements.

Disorderly conduct — under Alaska law, disorderly conduct is any of the following: intending to disturb the peace and privacy of another, the person makes unreasonably loud noise; in a public place when a crime has occurred person refuses to comply with a lawful order of a peace officer to disperse; in a private place the person refuses to comply with an order of a peace officer to leave the premises in which the person has neither a right of possession nor the express invitation to remain a person having a right possession; the person challenges another to fight or engages in fighting other than self-defense; the person recklessly creates a hazardous condition for others by an act which has no legal justification or excuse; or, the person intentionally exposes the offenders buttock or anus to another with reckless disregard the offensive or insulting effect the act may have another person.

Domestic violence (see “crime involving domestic violence”)

Double jeopardy — putting a person on trial more than once for the same crime, which is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Alaska Constitution.

Driving with a suspended / revoked license — a person drives a motor vehicle on a highway or vehicular way at a time when their drivers license, privilege to drive, or privilege to obtain a license has been canceled, suspended, or revoked; or the person is driving in violation of the limitation placed on that person’s license to drive.

Driving under the influence (also DUI) — the person drives a motor vehicle or operates an aircraft or a watercraft while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, inhalant, or any controlled some; or, if the person drives with .080% alcohol or more in their blood is testing within four hours of driving.

Due process (also “substantive due process” — “procedural due process”) — in orderly proceeding wherein a person is served with notice and has an opportunity to be heard and to enforce and protect his rights in court before being deprived of life, liberty, or property.

Dwelling — a building that is designed for use or is used as a person’s permanent or temporary home or place of lodging.

E /

Electronic monitoring (see “ankle monitoring”)

Elements of a crime — specific factors that define a crime which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction, is crime actually occurred; the accused intended the crime to happen; and a timely relationship between the first two factors.

Embezzlement — the unlawful misappropriation or misapplication by an offender to his own use or purpose of money, property, or some other thing of value entrusted to his care, custody or control.

Entrapment — the act of inducing a person to commit a crime so that a criminal charge will be brought against him.

Exclusionary rule (see also “suppression of evidence”) — the doctrine that says evidence obtained in violation of a criminal defendant’s constitutional or statutory rights is not admissible at trial (but may be used at sentencing or during administrative hearing such as before the DMV).

Exculpatory evidence — the crime with which he is charged.

Expungement — the process by which the record of a criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed.

Extradition — the surrender of an infused criminal by one state to the jurisdiction of another, usually done governor-to-governor.

F /

Felony — a crime punishable by more than one year in jail.

Firearm — a weapon including a pistol, revolver, rifle, or shotgun, whether loaded or unloaded, operable or inoperable, designed for discharging a shot capable of causing death or serious physical injury (but does not include a pellet gun).

Forgery — with intent to defraud the person falsely makes, completes, or alters a written instrument (depending on the type of written instrument it can either a misdemeanor or a felony).

Fraud — criminal liability for knowingly making a false or misleading statement, representation, or submission related to a benefit.

G /

Gambling — a person “stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the person’s control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that that person or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”

Grand jury — a body of about 18 citizens who listen to evidence of criminal allegations presented by the prosecutors and determine whether there is probable cause to believe an individual committed an offense if the evidence unexplained or uncontradicted would warrant a conviction at trial.

Guilty plea — when someone admits out loud or in writing that they committed a certain crime (see also “no contest plea”).

H /

Habeas corpus — Latin for “you have the body”; a writ of habeas corpus generally is a judicial order forcing law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding and justify the prisoner’s continued confinement.

Hate crime — a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society which is motivated in whole or in part by the offenders bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin (also known as a bias crime).

House arrest (see “electronic monitoring”)

Household member — under Alaska’s law involving crimes of domestic violence, a household member includes: adults or minors who are current or former spouses; adults are minors who live together or who have lived together; adults or minors who are dating or who have dated; adults or minors who are engaged in or who have engaged in a sexual relationship; adults or minors who are related to each other up to the fourth degree of consanguinity (whether of the whole or half blood or by adoption); adults or minors who are related or formerly related by marriage; persons who have a child of the relationship; and, minor children of a person in a relationship described in the first seven categories.

I /

Immunity (also “transactional immunity” — “use immunity”) — a grant by the court, usually from the prosecuting authority in its discretion, which assures someone will not face prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence (“use” immunity is broader than “transactional” immunity).

Impeachment — the process of calling a particular witness’s testimony into doubt. Also, the constitutional process whereby the legislative branch may accuse a high-ranking officer in the government of misconduct (who are then tried by the Senate before being removed from office).

Impeachment evidence (as opposed to “substantive evidence”) — evidence that is solely geared to cast doubt upon a witness’s testimony.

Incarceration — confinement in a prison or jail.

Incriminate — to hold yourself or another person responsible for criminal actions.

Inculpatory evidence — evidence indicating that a defendant did commit the crime.

Indictment — the formal charge issued by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to justify having a trial; it is used primarily for felonies.

Indigent — needy or impoverished; a defendant who can demonstrate his indigence to the court may be assigned a court-appointed attorney at public expense.

Information (see also “complaint”) — a formal accusation by a government attorney that the defendant committed a misdemeanor.

Infraction (see also “violation”) — a person convicted of a violation of a regulation adopted under the motor vehicle statutes is guilty of an infraction which is punishable by a fine not to exceed three dollars.

Initial appearance (see “arraignment”)

Innocent — found by a court to be not guilty of criminal charges; acquitted.

Instructions (also “jury instructions”) — instructions given by the judge to a jury at the conclusion of presentation of the evidence, and sometimes at the beginning and during trials, to advise the jury of the law that the jury must apply to the facts the case in consideration of their deliberations to reach a verdict.

Intentionally — when the person’s conscious objective is to cause that result, although it need not be their only objective.

J /

Justifiable homicide — the killing of a felon by a police officer in the line of duty or the killing of a felon during the commission of a felony by a private citizen.

Justification defense — including such things as self-defense, defense of others, and necessity, when an act is justified a person is not criminally liable even though the rack would otherwise constitute a criminal offense.

Juvenile delinquency — being adjudicated a juvenile delinquent is the equivalent of a minor child being found guilty of a crime.

K /

Kidnapping — a person restrains another with intent to hold them for a ransom, reward, or other payment; with the intent to use the restrained person as a shield or hostage; with the intent to inflict physical injury or sexual assault upon the restrained person; or with the intent to place the restrained person or 1/3 person apprehension that any person will be subjected to serious physical injury or sexual assault.

Knowingly — when the person is aware that their conduct is of that nature or that a circumstance exists, which may be established if a person is aware of a substantial probability of its existence, unless the person actually believes it does not exist (if a person is unaware of their conduct or a circumstance because they are intoxicated, the law deems that they acted knowingly).

L /

Larceny (see “theft”)

Leniency — recommendation for a sentence less than the maximum allowed.

M /

Malicious prosecution — an action instituted with intention of injuring the defendant and without probable cause, which terminates in favor of the person prosecuted.

Manslaughter — the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause the death of another under circumstances not amounting to murder in the first or second degree; intentionally aids another person to commit suicide; or, knowingly manufactures or delivers a controlled substance if a person dies as a direct result of ingestion of the controlled substance.

Medical marijuana — any form of the species cannabis as recommended by Dr. in the treatment of a medical condition.

Minor consumption — a person under 21 years of age may not knowingly consume, possess, or control alcoholic beverages except those furnished to them by their parents under Alaska statute 04.16.051(b).

Minor in possession of alcohol (see “minor consumption”)

Minor operating after consuming alcohol — a person who is at least 14 years of age but not yet 21 years of age who operates or drives a motor vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft after having consumed any quantity of alcohol. (See Alaska statute 28.35.280)

Miranda rights — the “Miranda warning” is a type of notification customarily given by police to criminal suspects when two circumstances exist the same time: the person is in custody and being interrogated (television has created an urban legend that it is illegal for the police to arrest someone without reading them their Miranda warnings).

Misdemeanor — a crime punishable by less than one year in jail

Mitigating circumstances — those which do not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense, but which may be considered as reasons for reducing the degree of blame or culpability (or punishment).

Mitigating factor / mitigator (regarding sentencing) — if one is subject to felony presumptive sentencing, the judge may consider a list of so-called mitigating factors which can reduce the sentence below the presumptive range (see Alaska statute 12.55.155(d)). Common mitigating factors include such things as: the defendant was an accomplice and played only a minor role; the defendant committed the offense under some degree of duress, coercion, threat, or compulsion insufficient to constitute a complete defense; the conduct of a youthful defendant was substantially influenced by another person more mature; the conduct of an old defendant was substantially a product of physical or mental infirmities resulting from his age; in a conviction for assault, the defendant acted with serious provocation from the victim; before the defendant knew the criminal conduct was discovered, the defendant fully compensated or made a good faith effort to fully compensate the victim for any damage or injury; the conduct constituting the offense was “among the least serious conduct included in the definition of the offense”; after the commission of the offense, the defendant assisted authorities to detect, apprehend, or prosecute another who committed an offense (snitched on others); and, the defendant is convicted of an offense in violation of the controlled substance laws, but only involved small quantities of the drug;

Murder — the intentional killing of another (first degree), or the killing of another that manifested extreme indifference to the value of human life (second degree).

N /

Negligent driving — driving in a manner that creates an unjustifiable risk of harm to a person or property which actually endangers a person or property; proof that a defendant actually endangers a personal property is established by showing that as a result of the defendant striving: an accident occurred, anyone took evasive action to avoid an accident, anyone stop or slow down suddenly to avoid an accident, or any person or property was otherwise in danger.

Negligently — in Alaska, criminal negligence means the person fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or the circumstance exists, which was a gross deviation from the standard of care reasonable person would observe the situation.

No True Bill — a legal procedure to dismiss charges against the defendant when the grand jury does not find enough evidence to charge him with violating the law.

Nolo contendere / “no contest” — a plea by which a defendant in a criminal prosecution accepts a conviction as though a guilty plea had been entered but does not admit guilt.

O /

Offense — a crime.

Own recognizance — a bond by which a person undertakes before a court to observe some condition, especially to appear when summoned, but without putting up any money.

P /

Pardon (see “clemency”)

Parole — the release of the prisoner temporarily or permanently before the completion of the sentence, on the promise of good behavior (there is mandatory parole which is usually referred to as “good time,” and discretionary parole but not everybody is eligible for the latter).

Perjury — knowingly telling a lie in a court or in an affidavit after having taken an oath or affirmation to be truthful.

Petit jury — an old-fashioned name for the jury that hears a criminal prosecution or civil lawsuit (to distinguish it from a “grand jury”).

Plea — in a criminal case the defendant’s statement pleading guilty or not guilty in answer to the charges.

Plea bargain (also “charge bargain”) — negotiation between the prosecuting attorney and the person accused of a crime (or that person’s lawyer) to exchange a guilty (or no contest) plea for conviction of a lesser charge if the court approves.

“Plead the Fifth” — invoking one’s right to the protection of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution which says that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

Position of Authority — regarding a sexual crime against a minor child, it applies to any “employer, youth leader, Scout leader, coach, teacher, counselor, school administrator, religious leader, doctor, nurse, psychologist, Guardian ad litem, babysitter, or a substantially similar position.”

Presentence report — the investigation into the history of a person convicted of a crime before sentencing to determine if there are extenuating circumstances which should ameliorate the sentence or a history of criminal behavior to increase the harshness of the sentence, and for the court to reasonably set conditions of probation.

Pretrial Enforcement Division — consisting of pretrial services officers, the PED gives recommendations to the judge about monetary and other bail conditions and supervises some releasees prior to trial.

Privilege against self-incrimination (see “plead the fifth”)

Probable cause — reasonable grounds for making a search, a charge, or an arrest.

Probation — the release of an offender from detention subject to a period of good behavior under supervision (the conditions of probation and the length it will last are set by the judge at sentencing, subject to modification for myriad reasons).

Probation officer — a person appointed to supervise offenders who are on probation, typically felons not misdemeanants.

Procedural due process (see also “substantive due process”) — the constitutional legal doctrine that requires government officials to follow fair procedures before depriving a person of life, liberty, or property (including when drafting statutes or regulations).

Prosecutor — a public official who institutes and litigates criminal legal proceedings against someone.

Prostitution — the crime of engaging in or a green or offering to engage in sexual conduct in return for a fee; or from a “John’s” perspective, offering a fee in return for sexual conduct.

Public defender — a government lawyer who provides free legal defense services to a poor person accused of a crime (see also “court-appointed attorney”).

R /

Rape — a colloquial term for sexual assault.

Reasonable doubt — that state of minds of jurors in which they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction as to the truth of the charge; after the presentation of all of the evidence and argument of the parties, any residual doubt based on reason and common sense.

Reasonable suspicion — less than probable cause, it is the burden of proof used when the judge decides the legality of a police officer’s decision to perform a search or seizure without a warrant; the common test was defined by the United States Supreme Court in Terry vs. Ohio as “specific and articulable facts which taken together with rational inferences from those facts reasonably warrant the intrusion.”

Recidivist / recidivism — the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend (by either repeating the same crime or a different one).

Reckless driving — driving in a manner that creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm to a person or to property; a risk of such a nature and degree that the conscious disregard or failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct reasonable person would observe in the situation.

Recklessly — when the person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk the result will occur or the circumstance exists; the risk is of such a nature degree that disregard of it constitutes a gross deviation (a person was unaware of a risk they would’ve been aware of had enough and intoxicated acts “recklessly”)

Refusal to take breath test (see also DUI) — a person validly under arrest for suspicion of operating or driving a motor vehicle or aircraft while under the influence of alcoholic beverage, inhalant, or controlled so who refuses the request of the police to submit to a chemical test of their breath to determine its alcohol contents. Offering or agreeing to take a blood test in lieu of a breath test is not a defense to a crime under Alaska statute 28.35.032.

Remand — return or take a person to jail

Remission of forfeiture — the process by which somebody litigates the return of their property including firearms or cash. —

Revocation (of bail or probation) — the official cancellation by the judge of bail or probation due to a violation of either.

Robbery (as opposed to “burglary”) — in the course of taking or attempting to take property from the immediate presence and control of another, the person uses or threatens use of force with intent to overcome or prevent resistance to the taking of the property, which is made more serious if the person is armed with a deadly weapon or represents by words or other conduct that they are so armed.

S /

Search warrant — a legal document authorizing police officers or other officials to enter and search premises and seize contraband or other instrumentalities of a crime.

Self-defense — the claim that an act otherwise criminal was legally justifiable because it was necessary to protect the personal property from the threat or action of another. (There are many layers to self-defense in Alaska, which must be analyzed from both a subjective and objective viewpoint.)

Sentence — the punishment ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime

Sentencing guidelines — Alaska has presumptive sentencing guidelines for certain felonies, and some misdemeanors, which set the rules and principles that trial judges are obliged to use to determine the final sentence for a convicted defendant.

Severance of actions — two separate multiple criminal actions, defendants, causes of action, or cross-complaints for separate trials.

Sex offenses — any crime involving sexual conduct, including “sexual felonies” which in Alaska are sexual assaults, sexual abuse of a minor, sex trafficking in the first degree, unlawful exploitation of a minor, distribution or possession of child pornography, indecent exposure in the first degree, online enticement of a minor, or any felony attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit these crimes.

Shoplifting — the criminal act of stealing goods from a shop while pretending to be a customer

Solicitation — with intent to cause another to engage in conduct constituting a crime, the person solicits the other to engage in that conduct (to “solicit” means to ask for or try to obtain something from someone)

Substance abuse treatment — formal healthcare and mental health care designed to help someone manage or stop the addictive abuse of alcohol or drugs.

Substantive due process (see also “procedural due process”) — a principal under constitutional law that allows courts to protect certain fundamental rights from government interference, even if procedural protections are present or the rights are not specifically enumerated elsewhere in the U.S. Constitution.

Substantive evidence (as opposed to “impeachment evidence”) — evidence offered to support a fact in issue (as opposed to impeachment or corroborating evidence).

Supervised release — the term of supervision served after a person is released from prison; unlike parole, supervised release does not replace a portion of the sentence of imprisonment but is in addition to the time spent in prison (see also “probation”).

Suppression / suppress (see also “exclusionary rule”) — to forbid the use of evidence at a trial or other hearing because it is improper or was illegally obtained (but may be used in some administrative hearings or sentencing).

Suspended Imposition of Sentence — usually the defendant is placed on probation and his conviction will be “set aside” if he successfully completes probation without violation, which means the conviction will no longer have any legal effect.

Suspended jail term (see also “active jail term”) — a prison sentence imposed by the court which is then suspended while the defendant is on probation, and if he completes probation successfully will never have to serve that portion of the sentence.

T /

Theft — the unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or writing way of property from the possession or constructive possession of another.

Third-Party Custodian — the person the judge appoints to have custody of someone released pre-trial in lieu of a larger monetary bail, or electronic monitoring, who promises to report to the court and the police if the released person violates the conditions of bail.

U /

Urine test (a.k.a. urinalysis) — checking the appearance, concentration, and content of urine either for illness or presence of alcohol or controlled substances.

v /

Vandalism (see “criminal mischief”)

Violation (see “infraction”)

w /

Waiver of extradition — a formal waiver of the right to an extradition hearing, sometimes done to allow the person to travel outside the state while on bail, so it would be easier to bring them back to Alaska if they refused.

Waiver of grand jury — a formal waiver of the right to indictment by a grand jury

Waiver of indictment (see “waiver of grand jury”)

Waiver of privilege — knowingly and intentionally giving up the protection and rights afforded by a legal privilege (such as attorney-client, physician-patient, or husband-wife privileges).

Warrant — a court order authorizing law enforcement officers to make an arrest or conduct a search, which must be based on probable cause after a review of the facts known to law enforcement contained in a sworn statement or testimony.

Warrantless search — the search or seizure done without a warrant, which is presumptively illegal (but there are many exceptions to the warrant requirement).

By |2018-12-27T12:08:32+00:00October 18th, 2018|Criminal Defense|
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Eric Derleth
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907-262-9164 386 HEATH PLACE
SOLDOTNA, ALASKA 99669
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