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Glossary


TERMS
A
Abolition
Aggravating Circumstances
Amicus Curiae
Amnesty
Appeal
Asphyxia
Attorney

B
Botched

C
Clemency
Commutation
Cyanide

D
Death Row
Deterrence

E
Electrocution

F
Forensic

G

H
Habeas Corpus

I
Innocence

J
Juvenile

K

L

M
Manslaughter
Mental Retardation
Minor
Mitigating Circumstances
Murder

N

O

P
Pardon
Parole
Probation

Q

R
Recidivism
Restitution
Retribution

S
Strangulation
Suffocation

Treason

U

V
Vengeance

W
Writ

X

Y

Z


 
DEFINITION
Abolition
The termination or annulment of institutions, systems, or practices permanently established.

Aggravating Circumstances
Specific factors found and considered as reasons for why someone should be given a harsher penalty for a crime. Some states refer to aggravating circumstances as "special circumstances," "aggravators," or "aggravated factors."

Amicus Curiae
A legal Latin phrase which means "friend of the court." It refers to someone not involved in the case who cooperates to assist the court in deciding a matter.

Amnesty
General pardon granted by the authorities to a group of individuals who did not follow a certain law.

Appeal
Request process to elevate a court case to a higher court for review with the objective to change an official decision.

Asphyxia
Poor oxygenation of blood that may result in loss of consciousness, brain damage, or death.

Attorney
An agent permitted to represent a person, and who has been qualified by a state or federal court to provide legal services, including appearing in court.

Botched
Frustrated or spoiled through negligence, incompetence or clumsiness.

Clemency
Leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency charged with administering justice.

Commutation
A change in length or severity of a penalty or punishment.

Cyanide
Poisonous water-soluble substance comprised of carbon and nitrogen. It is naturally produced by certain organisms found in vegetables, such as cherry pits, apricot pits, and bitter almonds.

Death Row
The section of a prison that houses inmates awaiting execution. The term is also used to refer to the state of awaiting execution.

Deterrence
The prevention of certain actions by the induction of fear for threatening negative consequences.

Electrocution
Death brought about by the flow of electricity through an organism. Electrocution is a form of execution used in the United States.

Forensic
Relates to the use of scientific knowledge and application to solve legal matters, usually used in criminal investigations.

Habeas Corpus
A legal act (writ) that commands the detainment official to produce the body of the prisoner before a court or a judge. It is often used as a legal strategy to gain release from unlawful or inhumane detention.

Innocence
Lack of guilt of a person with respect to any wrongdoing.

Juvenile
In the US, a juvenile is a minor 10 years of age or older, and younger than 17 years of age.

Manslaughter
The killing of a person without intention, premeditation, or malice aforethought.

Minor
A person in the US under 18 years of age.

Mitigating Circumstances
Factors found and considered as reasons for why someone should be given a lighter penalty for a crime.

Mental Retardation
A term used to describe mental functioning significantly lower-than-normal IQ. For legal porpuses in the US, the mental development must be at least two standard deviations below the norm (70 IQ or lower) to be considered "retardation."

Murder
Intentional, or premeditated, or malicious killing of a person.

Pardon
To release (a person) from punishment; exempt from penalty; To let (an offense) pass without punishment.

Parole
Parole is the release of a prisoner to supervision in the community after he/she has completed a part of his/her sentence in incarceration. People granted parole usually have to report periodically to parole agents and must adhere to certain conditions and rules of conduct set by the court. A violation of parole conditions can result in the person being returned to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence or more.

Probation
Instead of being sentenced to a jail or prison sentence, probation allows a convicted criminal to serve out their sentence in the community. A sentence of probation is often the punishment for misdemeanor charges, and is sometimes granted for felony charges as well. People sentenced to probation must adhere to certain conditions and rules of conduct set by the court, and may have to report periodically to a probation officer. A violation of probation conditions may result in the person being incarcerated to serve the remainder of their sentence or more.

Recidivism
A tendency to lapse into a previous pattern of behavior, especially a pattern of criminal habits.

Restitution
The act of restoring to the rightful owner something that has been taken away, lost, or surrendered; The act of making good or compensating for loss, damage, or injury; indemnification.

Retribution
Punishment imposed (as on a convicted criminal) for purposes of repayment or revenge for the wrong committed.

Strangulation
Interruption of tubular flow. Lenghtly strangulation of blood vessels or the trachea (windpipe) may result in death.

Suffocation
Lack of oxygen in the blood stream due to obstruction or damage to any part of the respiratory system. It can be caused by a poorly oxygenated atmosphere, an object, liquids, or gases.

Treason
Subversive, disloyal, or criminal behavior against one's government.

Vengeance
Reactionary, retaliatory act against a person or group.

Writ
A formal written order given by a court of law.