Director of Public Prosecutions

Glossary of terms

AcquittedWhen the magistrate, judge or jury find that a person is not guilty of the crime.
Accused/DefendantThe person charged with committing the crime. Accused is used in the District and Supreme Court. Defendant is used in the Local Court.
AdjournmentWhen the case is put off to another day.
AdmissibleUsed to describe evidence that is allowed to be given in court.
AffirmationA promise to tell the truth in court. Used by people who do not wish to swear on the Bible or other religious book.
AntecedentsA person's criminal record.
ArraignmentWhere the details of the charge (called an indictment) are read out to the accused in court. The accused will then plead guilty or not guilty.
BailAn agreement to turn up to court. A defendant may be given bail by the police or the court. A person on bail is allowed to go free until their case is decided at court.
Bar tableA long table near the front of the courtroom where the lawyers sit.
BenchWhere the judge or magistrate sits.
BarristerA lawyer who specialises in court presentation. Usually wears a wig and gown in court.
Beyond reasonable doubtThe test (or standard of proof) used by a jury, judge or magistrate to decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
Brief The evidence in written form, including the charge/s, witness statements, photographs etc. that the prosecution intends to use to prove the case.
ChargeThe allegation that a person has committed a crime.
Committal hearingA hearing of all the evidence at the local court by a magistrate who then decides if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
CounselAnother word to describe barristers acting for the defence or the prosecution.
ComplainantUsed to describe victims of crime in court.
ConferenceA meeting with the solicitor or barrister (or both) to talk about the case.
CourtThe building where the case is heard. Also used to describe in general terms the judicial officer hearing the case, such as a magistrate or judge.
Court officerA person employed to help with the running of the court.
Cross-examinationWhen the lawyer for the other side asks questions of the witness about the evidence they have given.
Crown prosecutor A barrister who presents the prosecution case in court.
DefenceThe defendant's case and the lawyers who present it.
Defence counselA barrister who presents the defendant's case in court.
DepositionA typed copy of the evidence recorded in court.
DPPThe Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. An independent body established by the State government to prosecute serious criminal offences The DPP provides a solicitor and/or Crown Prosecutor to prepare and present the case at court.
Examination-in-chief/evidence-in-chiefWhen the prosecutor asks the witness questions so that they can tell the court what happened.
ExhibitsAll the other evidence (apart from statements from witnesses) needed to help present the case, such as documents, photographs, clothing or other items relevant to the case.
Hung juryThe situation where a jury cannot reach a unanimous (agreed by everyone) decision about the defendant's guilt or innocence.
Indictable offenceA serious criminal offence that is usually only heard in a higher court before a judge and jury (or judge alone). sometimes less serious indictable offences may be heard in a lower court with agreement.
IndictmentThe formal charge for more serious cases. Used in the District and Supreme Courts.
Instructing solicitorA solicitor who helps with the preparation of the case and helps the barrister in court.
Judge's associateA person who helps the judge in court with documents used in the case, such as exhibits.
Legal argumentA disagreement about legal points in the case. The magistrate or judge decides the argument.
MentionA brief hearing to sort out what will happen with the case, such as setting a date for the committal hearing or deciding bail. It is not a full hearing of the case.
Plea When the defendant tells the court whether they are guilty or not guilty of the charge.
Oath A promise to tell the truth by swearing on a religious book that is important to the person making the promise.
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)See DPP above.
StatementA written document that sets out the evidence of a witness or an accused.
Sheriff's officerA court official.
SubpoenaA court order to make a witness come to court to give evidence and/or bring documents to court.
Summary offenceA less serious charge that is dealt with in the local court.
SummonsAn order from the local court requiring the defendant to come to court to answer a charge.
TranscriptA typed copy of what was said in the court.
Victim impact statementA report on the effect of a violent crime on the victim written by the victim, a family member or a support person (e.g. a counsellor or psychologist).
Voir direLegal argument about the admissibility of a particular piece of evidence in court. The jury are sent out of court while this argument takes place.