Jail Glossary

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Accused - A person charged with an offence
Acquittal - Discharge from prosecution upon a verdict of not guilty.
Additional Term - The portion of a sentence for which an inmate may be released on parole.
Adjournment - Putting off a case until another date. A defendant may seek an adjournment to obtain legal advice or to prepare their case. Where a person is pleading not guilty, the matter will be adjourned for the prosecution to serve a brief of evidence, and again for a defended hearing. Where a defendant is pleading guilty, the matter may be adjourned for a presentence or background report.
adjudicate - To settle in the exercise of judicial authority. To determine finally.
Administrative Segregation - A separate housing unit inside a prison in which prisoners are confined to their cells at all times except for limited outdoor exercise, showers and specific needs such as a medical visit. Segregation is used to manage offenders who have violated prison rules.
Affidavit - A written statement of the truth of which is sworn or affirmed. For example, it can be used to state income/expenditure in debt cases or to confirm that a summons has been properly served. It must be witnessed by a solicitor of Justice of the Peace. In some cases (eg. family law) most evidence is provided by affidavit. With the other party having the opportunity to question the person who has sworn the affidavit.
Affirmation - A statement may be "affirmed" rather than "sworn" on oath if a person wishes. An affirmation usually accommodates persons with non-Christian, Islamic or Jewish beliefs.
aggravated assault - A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he: attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; or, attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
Aggregate Sentence - The combined total of all sentences being served by an inmate.
Appeal - The decisions of courts may be reconsidered by higher courts. All inmates are legally entitled to appeal to a higher court against their conviction and sentence or against the severity of sentence.
Apprehended Violence - To threaten someone with words or actions so that they fear for their safety.
Assault - Assault is a criminal offence and involves touching (usually hitting, kicking, etc) someone without their consent or causing them to fear immediate violence (eg. pointing a weapon at them). Reasonable actions done in self-defence do not amount to assault.
Bail - (may be granted by the Police or the Court) An agreement to attend court to answer a criminal charge. Everyone has the right to be free until conviction. Conditions on one's freedom may be imposed however. If bail is denied or the conditions cannot be met there is a right of review. Bail conditions can be altered on application.
Bailiff - A court officer who carries out some of the enforcement procedures of the higher courts in civil cases.
Bailment - A delivery of goods from one person (the bailor) to another (the bailee) for some purpose, upon an express or implied contract that the goods will be redelivered to the bailor when that purpose has been fulfilled, eg. delivering clothes to a drycleaner creates a bailment. A contract may be implied from the behaviour of the parties.
Barrister - Lawyer who specialises in courtroom advocacy, usually in particular areas of law
Battery - A criminal offence involving unlawful physical contact, distinct from assault which is the apprehension, not fear, of such contact.
Bench Warrant - A warrant issued for the arrest of an accused person who failed to appear in Court.
Burden of proof - In criminal cases, the prosecution bears the burden of proof. In civil cases, it is the plaintiff. Sometimes the burden shifts, eg. If the defendant wants to set up a particular defence.
Charge - In civil law, a form of security for the payment of a debt or the performance of an obligation. In criminal law, the allegation that a person has committed an offence.
Civil Case - A case which does not involve a person being prosecuted for an offence, but which involves disputes between individuals, companies or occasionally an individual and the State. It will usually involve one person suing another for the payment of a debt, compensation etc. As opposed to criminal cases, where the charge must be beyond reasonable doubt, the outcome of a civil case is decided on the balance of probability.
Committal - A proceeding in the Local Court to determine if there is a case to answer in a higher court.
Common law - Law based on court decisions and definitions as opposed to Acts of Parliament. Lower courts are bound by the ruling of higher courts.
Community Service Order - An alternative to prison in which a person carries out a number of hours of unpaid work in the community, supervised by the Community Offender Support (formally Probation and Parole) or Department of Juvenile Justice.
Complainant - A victim in a criminal case, or a person applying for an apprehended violence order.
Concurrent Sentence - Two or more sentences imposed on an inmate which are served within the time of the longest sentence.
Contempt of Court - The failure to obey a court order, or an act which shows a disregard for the authority of the court or judge. A person in contempt may face imprisonment.
Coroner's Court - A type of Local Court set up to conduct an inquest to determine the cause of death in some cases. Its findings must precede the laying of any criminal charges.
Counter Claim - If a person responds to being sued by making an opposing claim the case can be heard under a single action.
Crime Victim's Rights Act - This law establishes certain rights to victims of crime and was first adopted in July, 1985. The law was reinforced by a constitutional amendment, adopted by the voters in l988, which gives crime victims certain constitutional rights. Under the law, victims can request to be notified and consulted during the various steps of the criminal justice processes. The victim can submit a written or oral impact statement to the probation officer preparing the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSI), and a written statement from the victim will be included in the PSI report if the victim requests it. Victims can also request information about a prisoner, including the earliest parole eligibility date, any transfers or pending transfer of the prisoner to minimum security, a release or pending release to community placement, an escape or a pending discharge. The victim also can get notice of any Parole Board decision, a public hearing on a reprieve, commutation or parole, and also can address or submit a written statement to the Parole Board. Under a 1992 amendment to state law, a victim can also appeal a parole decision.
Criminal Case - One in which prosecutes an individual for offending the State (usually the police). Such a case must be proved "beyond reasonable doubt".
Cumulative or Consecutive Sentence - A sentence of imprisonment which is to commence at the end of another sentence which has already been imposed.
Custody - The condition of being in the care of the police, Corrective Services or Juvenile Justice as opposed being at liberty in the community.
Default Judgment - Where the plaintiff is able to obtain judgment in the absence of an appearance or a defence.
Deponent - One in whose name an affidavit is sworn.
Double Jeopardy - The rule against Double Jeopardy means that a person may not be tried or punished twice for the same offence.
Fail to Appeal - If you fail to appear at any court hearing or mention at which you are expected to appear, then you may be charged with 'fail to appear'; you may be convicted in your absence and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. You may have difficulty getting bail in future.
Felony - A type of crime of supposed greater seriousness than a misdemeanour.
Fine Default - Failure to pay a fine resulting in other sentencing options. For example, a sentence of imprisonment being imposed.
Fraud - To obtain material advantage by unfair or wrongful means. Often linked to false cheques.
Guarantor - A person who promises to be responsible for the debt of another. Equally liable to pay if the debtor defaults.
Halfway House - A highly supervised residential environment designed to help individuals returning to the community from prison, or to provide housing for individuals awaiting trial. Less than one-half of one percent of all inmates released in 1999 were reportedly served by halfway houses.
Hearing - A trial or court action, as opposed to a mention or a call over. Evidence can be taken and decisions of guilt or liability made.
Injunction - An order by which the party to a court action is required to do or not do a certain thing. This can often be obtained to prevent something happening so that a court can make a decision.
Intent - In most cases a person must have intended to commit the action before they can be found guilty of a crime. Certain factors such as extreme youth, intellectual disability, mental illness or intoxication may affect the person's capacity to form a 'intent'.
Jurisdiction - The court has the power to hear a case.
Life Imprisonment - A mandatory term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole must be imposed if an offender is convicted of First-Degree Murder or placing explosives with personal injury resulting. As long as the offender is serving a mandatory life sentence, the offender cannot be paroled unless the sentence is commuted or pardoned by the governor. A second type of life sentence, from which a prisoner can be paroled, may be imposed for offenders convicted of life offense crimes other than Murder First or Placing Explosives and for habitual offenders. These cases are commonly referred to as "lifer law" cases. In such instances, the Parole Board can consider parole after ten calendar years where the offense occurred before Oct. 1, 1992, and if the sentencing or successor judge does not file written objections. When the offense occurred on or after Oct. 1, 1992, the board can consider parole after 15 years if the sentencing or successor judge does not file written objections. A public hearing where victims and others can present testimony for or against parole is required prior to parole consideration.
Litigation - Name given to any form of court action, usually civil.
Mandate - An order issued by a superior court or an official to a lower court. Or a contract by which one party agrees to perform services for another without payment.
Maximum Security - Maximum security correctional centres hold inmates whose escape would be highly dangerous to members of the public or the security of the state. They have secure perimeter walls that have towers or electronic surveillance equipment. All remand centres are maximum security.
Medium Security - Medium security correctional centres are normally surrounded by walls or high security fences, but inmates move around inside more freely than in maximum security.
Minimum Security - Minimum security correctional centres hold inmates who can be trusted in open conditions where there are fewer physical barriers to escape.
Misdemeanor - Usually a petty offense - a less serious crime than a felony - that is generally punishable by less than a year of confinement.
Oath - A promise made by a witness to tell the truth, sworn on the bible or other religious book, such as Qur'an or Torah. It is an offence to lie under oath.
Parole - In the United States, few convicts serve their entire sentence in prison. Instead, most are released on parole. From the French parole meaning "word of honor," parole was originally a means of releasing prisoners of war who promised not to resume fighting. Parole refers to the discretionary release of prison inmates by a parole board, although the term is sometimes used to identify any release of an inmate before the expiration of his or her sentence. The practice has its roots in the British penal system, in particular the "Irish system" of Walter Crofton.
Parole Board - A discretionary panel of individuals usually appointed by the governor which examines an inmate's institutional adjustment and future life plans in order to make a release decision. Today, less than one-quarter of prisoners are released by a parole board, as the vast majority are released according to mandatory sentencing guidelines. In most cases, a parole board sets the terms and conditions of release, even for those released by sentencing guidelines.
Plaintiff - The person who initiates legal proceedings against another in a civil dispute.
Probation - Criminal sentence allowing the offender to serve the sanctions imposed by the court while living in community under supervision. By far the most extensively used form of corrections in the United States.
Protection - Inmates are segregated from the normal correctional centre population at their own request or by the order of the governor due to a potential threat to the safety of an individual. Protection inmates are usually held in groups with similar requirements.
Public Works - In this program eligible minimum-security prisoners are allowed to provide labor to public and, in some circumstances, to nonprofit agencies. The agency is charged a per diem per prisoner. Prisoners go out in crews of usually eight to ten, under the supervision of a department employee or a civilian who has received special training in managing the prisoner crews. They work on renovations of nature areas, clean up parks and cemeteries, help remodel community buildings and sandbag during flooding, among other projects.
Punitive Segregation - Usually a small section within the segregation unit of a higher security prison for prisoners who are confined as a sanction for violating prison rules.
Recidivism - The reoccurrence of criminal behavior by prior offenders. The term also refers to a tendency to return to criminal behavior by offenders previously in the criminal justice system. Studies of criminal behavior consistently show that after intervention by the criminal justice system - arrests, convictions, punishments, and correctional programs - some offenders return to crime.
Release from Supervision - Successful completion of the guidance, treatment, and regulation process by an individual under community supervision.
Security Classification - The system used by the department of corrections to determine the appropriate prison security level of a prisoner. Levels range from I (minimum) to V (maximum). Generally, the prisoner's institutional behavior, length of sentence and escape potential determine the appropriate level.
Supervised Release - Transferring an individual from the custody of a correctional facility into community supervision.
Testimony - The evidence of a witness in court under oath or affirmation.
Violent Offender - The designation of an inmate as violent. This designation follows a careful assessment of behavioural traits, current sentence details and previous offences. An inmate may be designated as violent even though not currently sentenced for a violent offence.
Witness - Anyone called before the court to give evidence. This may be to prove a person's guilt or otherwise.
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