acquittal: Judgment that a criminal defendant has not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
appeal: A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the appellant.
arraignment: A proceeding in which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
bail: Security given for the release of a criminal defendant or witness from legal custody (usually in the form of money) to secure his appearance on the day and time appointed.
conviction: A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.
defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
grand jury: A body of citizens who listen to evidence of criminal allegations, which are presented by the government, and determines whether there is probable cause to believe the offense was committed. As it is used in federal criminal cases, "the government" refers to the lawyers of the U.S. attorney's office who are prosecuting the case.
lawsuit: A legal action started by a plaintiff against a defendant based on a complaint that the defendant failed to perform a legal duty, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.
misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
plaintiff: The person who files the complaint in a civil lawsuit.
prosecute: To charge someone with a crime. A prosecutor tries a criminal case on behalf of the government.
verdict: The decision of a jury or a judge.