Jargon Buster Criminal Law Category - A-C

Adjournment

A temporary postponement of legal proceedings.

Advocate

Lawyer appearing in a court of law.

Aggravating

Factors making a situation worse. For example, burglary is aggravated in the eyes of a court if the burglar is armed, or injures someone while committing the offence.

Alibi

A defence that someone accused of a crime was not there at the time and could not have committed the offence.

Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBO)

These are court orders which prohibit specific anti-social behaviours. An ASBO is issued for a minimum of two years, and can ban an offender from visiting certain areas, mixing with certain people or carrying on the offending behaviour. Despite being issued by a court, an ASBO is a civil order, not a criminal penalty - this means it won't appear on an individual's criminal record. However, breaching an ASBO is a criminal offence punishable by a fine or up to five years in prison.

Appeal

A formal request to a higher court that the verdict or ruling of a court be changed.

Bail

Release of a defendant from custody until their next appearance in court. This can be subject to security being given and/or compliance with certain conditions, such as a curfew.

Barrister

A barrister is a legal practitioner in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The name comes from the process of being called to the Bar during their training. Barristers represent individuals in court, and provide them with specialist legal advice. Members of the public may now approach a barrister direct in certain circumstances.

Bound over

Being placed under a legal obligation, for example being "bound over" to keep the peace. Failure to observe a binding order may result in a penalty.

Case Law

The body of law created by judges' decisions on individual cases.

Chambers

This has two meanings: a private room or courtroom from which the public are excluded, in which a judge may conduct certain sorts of hearings, for example family cases; or offices used by a barrister.

Circuit Judge (CJ)

A judge who normally sits in the county court and/or Crown Court.

Community Order

A non-custodial order of the court which normally is combined with an element of additional punishment like a curfew or unpaid work. This is often imposed as an alternative to prison in cases of more minor offending.

Court of Appeal (CA)

The Court of Appeal is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, but has occasional sittings elsewhere in England and Wales. It consists of a Civil Division and a Criminal Division, which between them hear appeals in a wide range of cases covering civil, family and criminal justice. In some cases a further appeal lies, with leave, to the Supreme Court, but in practice the Court of Appeal is the final court of appeal for the great majority of cases.

Crown Court

The Crown Court deals with more serious criminal cases such as murder, rape or robbery, some of which are on appeal or referred from magistrates' courts. Trials are heard by a judge and a 12 person jury.

Crown Prosecution Service

In England and Wales an independent prosecuting body, established in 1986, that decides whether cases brought by the police should go to the courts. It headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions Compare and is often abbreviated to CPS.

Curfew

A legal order confining someone to their home, sometimes for set times of the day.

Custodial sentence - Where an offender is confined to a prison or young offenders' institution for a set period of time.

Central Criminal Court

Known as the Old Bailey after the street in London in which it is situated, the Central Criminal Court deals with major criminal cases in the Greater London area and in exceptional cases from the rest of England.