James R. Makin Law Firm


Affirmative Finding - A specific determination by the trier of fact (jury or judge) that is entered in the judgment of the court. For example: a deadly weapon, age of complaining witness, or hate crime.

Alcohol Cethyll - Produced by yeast acting upon sugar in a natural fermentation process. Distillation can increase the concentration of alcohol percentage (the proof). Alcohol abuse can lead to trouble with authorities, DWI, MIP, intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughters to name some of the possibilities.

Amphetamines (speed) - Central nervous system stimulant synthetically derived from ephedrine, a chemical that causes the body to release its supply of adrenaline (epinephrine). Possession without a doctor's prescription is against the law.

Announcement - Hearing at which it will be decided whether your case will be handled through a plea or if it will go to trial.

Arraignment - This is the first court appearance after being arrested. It is the initial step in a prosecution whereby the defendant is brought before the court to hear the charges and to enter a plea. If you appear at the initial hearing without counsel, the court may give you another date to come back to allow you ample opportunity to hire an attorney.

Attempt - A person commits an offense if, with specific intent to commit an offense, he/she does an act amounting to more than mere preparation that tends but fails to effect the commission of the offense intended.

Bailiff - An officer of the court who acts under the direction of the judge of the court that the bailiff serves and who attends to the needs of the jury.

Barbiturates (downers) - Drugs that act as sedatives or depressants. They slow the function of the brain/central nervous system, resulting in muscle relaxation and a lessening of anxiety or tension. It is against the law to possess without a valid prescription from a doctor.

Booked - As in "being booked" or "booked in". The process when a person is arrested and taken to jail and a record is made of the charges, including photographs and fingerprints of the person arrested.

Burden of proof - A party's duty to prove a disputed assertion or charge. The burden of proof includes both the burden of persuasion and the burden of production.

Case in chief - The evidence presented at trial by the party with the burden of proof.

Cash Bond - Money put up with the sheriff to insure your appearance at court.

Chain of custody - The movement and location of real evidence from the time it is obtained, to the time it is presented in court.

Cocaine - A stimulant drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, a bush that grows in South America. The only legal use is as a local anesthetic administered under medical supervision. It can be snorted or injected. It can be smoked in its derivative form (crack).

Commutation - The change of punishment assessed to a less severe one.

Court Reporter - The person appointed by the court to prepare a verbatim record of the court proceedings by using written symbols in shorthand, machine shorthand, or oral stenography.

Crack - The street name given to the free base (smokable) form of cocaine. The term "crack" refers to the cracking sound heard when the mixture is smoked. Crack is cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride (powder) to a rock form for smoking. Crack cocaine is normally processed with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water. The mixture is heated to remove the hydrochloride, producing the rock of crack for smoking.

Dextroamphetamine - Central nervous system stimulant synthetically derived from ephedrine, a chemical that causes the body to release its supply of adrenaline (epinephrine). Possession without a doctor's prescription is against the law.

Extradition - The court-supervised surrender by one state (or nation) to another of an individual accused or convicted of an offense outside of it's own territory, and within, the territorial jurisdiction of the other which demands the surrender.

Gang - Three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities.

Hung Jury - A jury that cannot agree upon any verdict is said to "hang up". After deliberations have failed to reach a consensus, the parties may agree to discharge the jury or the judge may discharge the jury.

Information - It is the written statement filed and presented on behalf of the state by the prosecutor, charging the defendant with a crime.

Inhalants - Solvents and aerosols introduced into the body by sniffing or deep inhalation (examples are Poppers and Amyl Nitrate). Solvents are generally toxic substances defined as liquids capable of dissolving another substance. Solvents used as inhalants include plastic cement, glue, lacquer thinner, lighter fluid and gasoline.

Indictment - It is the written statement of a grand jury accusing a certain named person of a crime.

Insanity defense - To be found not guilty by reason of insanity, the accused must prove by a preponderance of evidence that at the time of the conduct charged, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, the accused did not know the conduct was wrong.

Jurisdiction - The authority or the power of the court to hear matters and try cases before it.

Judgement - The written declaration of the court signed by the trial judge and entered of record showing the conviction or acquittal of the citizen accused.

Methamphetamine - Central nervous system stimulant synthetically derived from ephedrine, a chemical that causes the body to release its supply of adrenaline (epinephrine). Possession without a doctor's prescription is against the law. Methamphetamine use causes rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and irreversible stroke-producing damage to small blood vessels in the brain. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions occur with methamphetamine overdoses and if not treated immediately, can result in death.

PCP - Phencyclidine, or Angel Dust, was first developed in the early 1950's as an anesthetic. It was taken off the market because it caused hallucinations. It can be a pure crystal-like powder, tablet or capsule. It can be swallowed, smoked, sniffed or injected. Effects depend on how much is taken, the way it is used and the individual. It definitely acts as a stimulant; speech, muscle coordination and vision are impaired; senses of touch and pain are diluted; body movements are slowed; time seems to "space out." PCP is a controlled substance and is against the law to possess.

Parole - The discretionary and conditional release of an eligible prisoner sentenced to prison so that the prisoner may serve the remainder of his/her sentence under the supervision and control of the Board of Pardons and Parole, in the community.

Party to an offense - A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if, for example, acting with intent to promote or assist in the commission of the offense, he/she solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense.

Plea - The negotiated agreement between a prosecutor and a criminal defendant, whereby the defendant pleads to an offense in exchange for some concession by the prosecutor regarding punishment (restitution, probation, community service, time to be served, etc.)

Probable cause - Reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has committed or is committing a crime, or that a place contains specific items connected with a crime. Probable cause must amount to more than a bare suspicion, but less than evidence that would justify a conviction. It must be shown before an arrest warrant or search warrant may be issued.

Probation - A court-imposed criminal sentence that, subject to stated conditions, releases a convicted person into the community instead of sending the criminal to jail or prison.

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