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Glossary of Court Terms

Sun, 01/24/2016 - 14:12 -- bregan
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Common terms used by courts and in court forms

Petition:  A document you file with the court, asking the court to do something. A "Petition to Annull Record" asks the court to remove the record of the arrest, the charge, and if applicable the conviction and sentence and all related documents from records generally available to the public. 

Petitioner:  The person asking the court to do something. 

Arrest:  When a police officer takes you into police custody (brings you to the police station), or otherwise tells you that the police intend to bring a criminal charge against you (hands you a criminal complaint). 

Defendant:  A person who has a legal action in court brought by someone else. In a criminal case, the State of New Hampshire files a case against a defendant. 

Criminal Complaint:  A document used by a police department to tell a person it intends to bring criminal charges against him or her. 

Disposition:  A term that can be used to describe the outcome or result of a criminal charge. 

Conviction:  After being arrested and charged with a criminal offense and after a trial or plea hearing, the judge enters a finding of guilty against you. 

Sentence:  After being arrested and charged with a criminal offense and after a trial or plea hearing, the judge enters a finding of guilty against you and orders you to follow certain conditions or requirements. 

Nol Pros:  A legal term used to describe a disposition or outcome of a case. The State of New Hampshire (through either the county attorney, prosecutior, or police department) decides not to prosecute you and ends the case in court. In other words, the charge was dropped by the State. 

Not Guilty:  A legal term used to describe the disposition or outcome of a case. Not guilty means either a judge or jury found you were not responsible for the charge after a trial. 

Placed on file without a finding:  A legal term used to describe the disposition or outcome of a case. It means you maintain your innocence or continue your not-guilty status for a period of time conditioned upon good behavior and possibly some other conditions. Once the period of time is completed and you have followed the conditions, the case is usually dismissed. Even though the case is dismissed, the arrest, charge, and disposition of placed on file without a finding still remain documented on your record. 

Good Behavior:  A legal term used in criminal sentences to describe a defendant's actions. Good behavior means a defendant does not receive any convictions for major motor vehicle offenses, misdemeanors, or felonies. The definition of good behavior can also be changed by a particular judge to include certian behavior the judge is concerned about. 

Violation Level Offense:  A legal term used to describe certain offenses prohibited by New Hampshire law. It is the lowest level of offense (meaning the lease serious) in New Hampshire. A violation level offense is considered non-criminal. 

Misdemeanor: A legal term used to describe certain offenses prohibited by New Hampshire law. It is a criminal offense in New Hampshire. 

Felony:  A legal term used to describe certain offenses prohibited by New Hampshire law. It is the most serious level of offense in New Hampshire. 

Class of Offense:  A more specific way to describe the seriousness of a misdemeanor or felony. A class A felony is more serious than a class B felony. A class A misdemeanor is more serious than a class B misdemeanor. 

Annulment:  The legal process to remove an arrest, the charge, and if applicable, the disposition, and all related documents from records generally available to the public. 

Arrest record/criminal record:  A record maintained by the State Police Criminal Record Unit of all criminal arrests and dispositions of individuals charged with a criminal offense. 

Court record:  The documents maintained by the New Hampshire court system of what happens within the court. 

May:  A legal term that means "optional" or "can". It is not required. 

Shall:  A legal term that means "required" or "must". It is required. 

Stand Committed: A legal term used in criminal cases. It means you must serve the time at the jail, house of corrections, or prison. 

Suspended Time:  A legal term used in a criminal sentence to describe the amount of time in jail or prison that is not actually served in the facility. Rather, the time is paused for a period of time based on certain requirements. The commonly used requirement is good behavior but can include some other conditions. 

For example, a sentence with suspended time: "12 months in the house of corrections with all but 30 days suspended for one year conditioned upon good behavior and no contact with the victim. This means the defendant will serve 30 days in the house of corrections the and the remaining 11 months are suspended for one year." The suspended time in this example is 11 months and the sentence ends one year from the date it is issued. 

Suspension Window:  A legal term used in a criminal sentence to describe the period of time a remaining term of the sentence could still be imposed if certain conditions are not met. 

For example, "12 months in the house of corrections with all but 30 days suspended for one year, conditioned upon good behavior and no contact with the victim." This means the defendant will serve 30 days in the house of corrections and the remaining 11 months are suspended for one year. The suspension window is one year. If the defendant fails to be of good behavior during the one year period the 11 months in jail could be imposed by the court. The sentence ends one year from the date it is issued by the court. 

Deferred Sentence:  A legal term used in a criminal sentence to describe a particular type of sentence. The sentence is postponed for a period of time during which the sentence could still be imposed if certain contions are not met. At the end of the deferred time or postponement, the court holds a hearing to determine if the defendant has met the conditions of the sentence. 

For example,  "12 months in the house of corrections with all but 30 days deferred for one year, conditioned upon good behavior and no contact with the victim." This means the defendant will serve 30 days in the house of corrections. The remaining 11 months are deferred for one year. The deferred time in this example is 11 months. At the end of the deferment window the court holds a deferred sentence hearing and the defendant must show the court that he has remained of good behavior and had no contact wiht the victim. If the court agrees then the case will likely be closed unless there is a suspended sentence after the deferred sentence, which is often the case. 

Deferment Window:  A legal term used in a criminal sentence. A deferment window is generally the time frame from when the court issues the sentence to the deferred sentence hearing.

For example, "12 months in the house of corrections with all but 30 days deferred for one year conditioned upon good behavior and no contact with the victim." This means the defendant will serve 30 days in the house of corrections the remaininging 11 months are deferred for one year. The deferred time in this example is 11 months. The deferment window in this example is one year. At the end of the deferment window the court holds a deferred sentence hearing and the defendant must show the Court that he has remained of good behavior and had not contact with the victim. If the court agrees then the case will likely be closed unless there is a suspended sentence after the deferred sentence, which is often the case. 

Extended Term of Imprisonment:  This is a New Hampshire law that allows the sentencing court to enhance or lengthen a defendant's sentence. For example, a defendant charged with a class A felony normally faces a maximum sentence of 7-15 years in the New Hampshire State Prison. If the defendant is eligible for extended term of imprisonment and the court agrees, the person could be sentenced to a prison term longer than 7-15 years. 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Date: 
1/24/2016
Author: 
bregan

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