There are a lot of words, phrases, and terms that are used very often in legal cases, most of which are nearly incomprehensible to the average American. You may have heard some of them, but may not realize what they mean or how important each may be to your case. We are very familiar with legal terminology in the United States due to more than twenty years of experience in practicing law in Alabama and Georgia. To help you better understand your situation, here is a brief guide to commonly used legal terminology, and how it may affect your case.
Burden of proof is one of the most important phrases in any case. It refers to who has to prove to the court that you are guilty as charged. If this cannot be satisfied, then you cannot be convicted. When the state has the burden of proof, they must prove their claim. In cases where you have the burden of proof, you have to prove your innocence in the given case. For instance, in DUI cases, the prosecution (state) has the burden of proof. You do not have to prove that you are innocent; they have to prove that you are guilty.
A capital crime is one punishable by the death penalty. In the state of Alabama, this refers only to intentional murder with 18 aggravating factors present. The two forms of execution in Alabama are lethal injection (primary) and electrocution in very rare cases.
Due process refers to your constitutional right to a fair, speedy trial in the US. You are guaranteed an impartial trial, and if this is violated, it could result in an appeal, dismissal, or acquittal.
One of the most important terms used is evidence. Whether it is a document, eyewitness testimony, test result, or expert testimony, the evidence for or against you can make or break the case, without regard to the type of case or nature of the charges.
A felony is one of the more serious crimes that can be committed in the state of Alabama. There are many different types of felonies, encompassing crimes dealing with everything from violence to drugs. Repeat offenses can also be felonies, even if a first offense is only classified as a misdemeanor.
When the state is ready to try a case against a person, you will receive notification from a grand jury. This is called an indictment. Normally indictments are reserved for felony cases, but there may be some exceptions depending on the individual charged, the circumstances, and the charge.
In order to try a case against someone, the person/entity must have jurisdiction over them. For example, a judge will have jurisdiction over a specific region and those who are charged with crimes in that jurisdiction are under his jurisdiction.
Do not wait until you are convicted to find an attorney to fight for you. Contact us early in the case and begin building a successful defense strategy right away!