Common Terms that Apply to Criminal Defense Law

gavel with lawyer discussing with client in background

If you are facing a criminal charge, you are facing significant challenges ahead that can leave you at a loss regarding how best to proceed. One of the most important steps you can take is consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, but better understanding the common terms that apply to criminal defense law can help ease your stress.

From A to Z

There are wide-ranging legal terms related to criminal defense law that it can be beneficial to familiarize yourself with.

The Accused

The accused refers to a person who has been charged with a crime but has not yet been to trial for the charge.


Admissible refers to that evidence that was obtained legally and that the jury (or judge) is allowed to consider in determining the innocence or guilt of a defendant.

Related: Texas and Grand Jury Proceedings


Booking refers to when all of the following apply to an individual:

  • He or she has been arrested by the police.

  • He or she has been read his or her Miranda rights.

  • He or she has been notified of the charges levied against him or her.

  • He or she has been fingerprinted.


A charge is a formal allegation or legal indictment that is levied against someone by the prosecution (in relation to a specific crime). The act of charging someone is known as pressing charges.


The defendant in the case is the person who is accused of the crime in question.


Discovery is when the prosecution or the defense attempts to obtain information that is relevant to the case from the other side.

Related: The 5 Most Common Types of Discovery Used in a Texas Divorce


A finding refers to a formal conclusion that a judge, jury, or regulatory agency reaches in relation to a significant fact in a specific case.

Grand Jury

A grand jury is a group of citizens who are tasked with determining if there is probable cause for taking an individual to trial for a criminal charge. Grand juries only have the authority to investigate and accuse an individual of a crime – not the authority to convict.

Related: Texas and Grand Jury Proceedings


A hearing is different from a trial in the sense that it lacks a jury. A hearing is a legal proceeding in which a legal issue is resolved by a judge (after evidence and arguments are presented).


Litigation refers to a legal action that can be civil or criminal, and both the plaintiffs and the defendants are referred to as litigants.


The verdict is the final decision that is made by either the judge or jury in a criminal case.


A warrant refers to the court’s authorization for law enforcement to move forward with either a search or arrest (known as a bench warrant).

Read more: Texas Warrants: What You Should Know

It is Time to Consult with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Lawyer

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas – is a distinguished criminal defense lawyer who skillfully advocates for his clients’ rights – in pursuit of their case’s best possible resolutions. For more information, please contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.


Related Posts
  • What You Need to Know if You Have Been Charged with a Crime in Texas Read More
  • Consent and Sexual Assault Laws in Texas Read More
  • The Questions that Criminal Defense Attorneys Hear Most Often Read More