Glossary Of Legal Terms



When a jury or court finds the defendant "not guilty," the defendant is "acquitted."
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.
A sworn statement of the facts as you know them to be.
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.
A lawyer.
A court employee who maintains order in the courtroom.
The property or money given in assurance that the defendant will appear in court.
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.
Intended to be kept private or secret.
When you give permission or agree to something.
To prove or find someone guilty of a crime.
The official place and process for the administration of justice.
The person against whom a charge or claim is brought in court.
Defense Attorney
The lawyer for the defendant.
The process by which the attorneys in the case share relevant information.
When information is released or shared, it is "disclosed."
An order by the court that means the case will not continue.
The result or final outcome of a case
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.
When the defendant is determined to have committed the crime; they are "guilty."
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.
The decision of a judge.
Usually a group of 12 people from the community randomly selected to consider evidence and decide the outcome of a criminal case.
Generally someone under the age of 18.
A request made to the court asking the judge to do something. A motion is usually heard at a hearing.
A person who has committed a crime.
A pledge before testifying, every witness must take an oath that they will tell the truth.
Also may be referred to as the offender, the defendant or the accused. It generally means the person who assaulted the victim.
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.
The court processes in which a case moves through the legal system
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.
When someone (it can be more than one person) forces, and/or threatens, 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.
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, and/or threatens, 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.
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
To make statements under oath.
The court proceeding in which the guilt or innocence of the accused person is decided by the judge or a jury.
When you go to court and tell the judge and/or jury what happened to you, you are giving "testimony."
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.
A term that refers to a person who is both a victim of a crime and also the witness to that same crime.
One who sees an act performed. One who gives evidence in a case. You can be a victim and a witness to a crime.