Criminal Defense GLOSSARY
Glossary of Criminal Defense Terms
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Panel: (1) In appellate cases, a group of judges (usually
three) assigned to decide the case; (2) In the jury selection
process, the group of potential jurors.
Parties: Plaintiffs and defendants (petitioners and
respondents) to lawsuits, also known as appellants and appellees in
appeals, and their lawyers.
Personal recognizance: In criminal proceedings, the
pretrial release of a defendant without bail upon his or her promise
to return to court. (See also recognizance.)
Petit jury (or trial jury): A group of citizens who hear
the evidence presented by both sides at trial and determine the
facts in dispute. Federal criminal juries consist of 12 persons.
Petty offense: Misdemeanor punishable by six months or
less in prison.
Plea: in a criminal case, the defendant=s statement
pleading guilty or not guilty in answer to charges presented.
Precedent: A court decision in an earlier case with facts
and law similar to a dispute currently before a court. Precedent
will ordinarily govern the decision of a later similar case, unless
a party can show that it was wrongly decided or that it differed in
some significant way.
Pretrial conference: A meeting of the judge and lawyers to
discuss which matters should be presented to the jury, to review
evidence and witnesses, to set a timetable, and to discuss the
settlement of the case.
Probation: A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in
which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as
long as certain conditions are observed.
Procedure: The rules for the conduct of a lawsuit; there
are rules of civil, criminal, evidence, bankruptcy, and appellate
Pro se: A Latin term meaning "on one's own behalf"; refers
to people representing their own cases without attorney
Prosecute: To charge someone with a crime. A prosecutor
tries a criminal case on behalf of the government.
Proxy: The instrument authorizing one person to represent,
act, and vote for another at a shareholders' meeting of a