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Glossary of Legal Terms

Acquittal
When a jury or court finds the defendant "not guilty," the defendant is "acquitted."
Advocate
Usually someone trained in sexual assault and legal issues who offers support and assistance to sexual assault survivors. An advocate may work for the prosecutor or at a community based agency.
Affidavit
A sworn statement of the facts as you know them to be.
Anonymous
Not named or identified
Anti-Harassment Order
An order issued by the court that orders a person to stop doing certain things that "harass" another person.
Attorney
A lawyer
Authorization
Permission.
Bailiff
A court employee who maintains order in the courtroom.
Bail
The property or money given in assurance that the defendant will appear in court.
Bond
The money paid to a bond company so that they will pay the bail for a person. The bond price is usually 10% of the bail amount.
Charge/ Charged
When the prosecuting attorney formally accuses someone of having committed a criminal offense, that person is "charged" with a crime.
Clerk (of the Court)
A court official who handles clerical matters like keeping records, filing documents and providing certified copies.
Commissioner (of the Court)
A type of judge who makes decisions relating to a particular subject matter.
Confidential
Intended to be kept private or secret.
Consent
When you give permission or agree to something.
Conviction
To prove or find someone guilty of a crime.
Court
The official place and process for the administration of justice.
Defendant
The person against whom a charge or claim is brought in court.
Defense Attorney
The lawyer for the defendant.
Discovery
The process by which the attorneys in the case share relevant information.
Disclosed/disclosure
When information is released or shared, it is "disclosed."
Dismissal
An order by the court that means the case will not continue. 
Disposition
The result or final outcome of a case
Emancipation
When a teenager becomes legally competent to be their own guardian and is no longer subject to parental control.
Forensic Exam
A physical examination of the body that is designed to collect evidence to show that a crime was perpetrated upon that person.
Guilty
When the defendant is determined to have committed the crime; they are "guilty."
Hearing
A court proceeding where a judge considers requests for either party in a case.
Judge/Judicial Officer 
An elected or appointed public official with the authority to hear and decide cases in court.
Judgment
The decision of a judge.
Jury
Usually a group of 12 people from the community randomly selected to consider evidence and decide the outcome of a criminal case.
Minor
Generally someone under the age of 18.
Motion
A request made to the court asking the judge to do something. A motion is usually heard at a hearing.
Offender
A person who has committed a crime.
Oath
A pledge before testifying, every witness must take an oath that they will tell the truth.
Perpetrator
Also may be referred to as the offender, the defendant or the accused. It generally means the person who assaulted the victim.
Plaintiff/Petitioner
Usually used in a civil legal proceeding, referring to the person who brought the civil action.
Police Report
Report made by the police containing the initial statement made by the victim at the time they reported the crime.
Pre-sentence Report
A report to the sentencing judge containing background information about the crime and the defendant to assist the judge in making a sentencing decision.
Proceeding
The court processes in which a case moves through the legal system
Prosecute/Prosecution
When the state brings charges against someone for committing a crime, that person is being "prosecuted."
Prosecutor/Prosecuting Attorney
The lawyer for the state who is responsible for prosecuting people who commit crimes.
Protection Order
An order issued by a court commissioner or judge that specifically forbids the perpetrator from having contact with you.
Rape
When someone (it can be more than one person) forces you, and/or threatens you, and/or tricks you into having sexual intercourse that you do not want.
RCW - Revised Code of Washington
The laws of the state of Washington.
Respondent
The person who needs to "respond" to a civil legal proceeding. Also 
Sentencing/Sentencing Hearing
A hearing where the judge decides the punishment for a guilty offender.
Sexual Assault
When someone (it can be more than one person) forces you, and/or threatens you, and/or tricks you into having sexual contact (as defined by the law) that you do not want.
Statute of Limitations
The time limit assigned in which crimes must be charged, or lawsuits must be filed in order for them to be valid claims.
Subpoena
A piece of paper issued by a court that instructs you to do something specific, like appear in court, or provide certain documents to the other party in a legal proceeding
Testify
To make statements under oath.
Trial
The court proceeding in which the guilt or innocence of the accused person is decided by the judge or a jury.
Testimony
When you go to court and tell the judge and/or jury what happened to you, you are giving "testimony."
Victim
When you have been hurt by someone, the court refers to you as a victim, meaning a victim of a crime.
Victim Impact Statement
A statement made to the court by the victim or a victim representative that tells the judge how the victims or victim's family has been affected by the crime.
Victim/Witness
A term that refers to a person who is both a victim of a crime and also the witness to that same crime.
Witness
One who sees an act performed. One who gives evidence in a case. You can be a victim and a witness to a crime.
Reviewed: December 6th, 2016