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Suffolk County District Court - Criminal Traffic & Parking Division - Glossary



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Acquitted:
Found not guilty after trial.

Action:
a formal proceeding in a court by which one seeks to enforce a right, redress a wrong, or obtain punishment for an offense

Accusatory Instrument:

An accusation on behalf of the People of the State of New York against a designated person known as the "defendant". Accusatory instrument may be in the form on an indictment, information, simplified information, prosecutor's information, superior court information, misdemeanor complaint or felony complaint.

Adjournment:
a temporary postponement of the proceedings of a case until a specified future time

Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal:
An adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is an adjournment of the action without date ordered with a view to ultimate dismissal of the accusatory instrument in furtherance of justice.

Adjudication:
A judicial decision or sentence; to hear or try and determine judicially

Adversary system:
the system of trial practice in the U.S. and some other countries in which each of the opposing, or adversary, parties has full opportunity to present and establish its opposing contentions before the court

Affidavit:
A signed sworn statement in writing; a written or printed declaration or statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before a person having authority to administer such oath or affirmation.

Affidavit of Errors:
A signed sworn statement setting forth alleged errors or defects in the proceeding which are the subjects of the appeal.

Affidavit of Service:

A signed sworn statement affirming delivery of a "named" document.

Affirm:
an act of declaring something to be true under the penalty of perjury by a person who conscientiously declines to take an oath for religious or other pertinent reasons

Aids to Navigation:

Buoys, beacons or other fixed objects in the water which are used to mark obstructions to navigation or to direct navigation through safe channels.

Allegation:
the assertion, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, made in a pleading, setting out what he expects to prove

Allocution:
invitation to a defendant, before imposition of sentence, to address the court, in mitigation of punishment or for arrest of judgment; act of addressing or exhorting

alternate juror:
a juror selected as substitute in case another juror must leave the jury panel

Answer:
A pleading by a defendant; reply, response, defense.

apparently eligible youth:
a youth charged with a crime who appears to be eligible for youthful offender status

Appeal:
A proceeding to have a case examined by a higher court to see if a lower court's proceedings were conducted and decisions were proper.

Appellant:
A party who files an appeal.

Arraignment:
The proceeding in which a defendant is brought before the court for an official reading of the offense charged.

Arrest Warrant:
An written order directing a police officer to arrest a named person and bring him or her before the court for the purpose of arraigning on an accusatory instrument.

assigned counsel:
defense counsel assigned by court to represent an indigent defendant

attestation:
the act of witnessing an instrument in writing at the request of the party making the same, and subscribing it as a witness

attorney of record:

attorney whose name appears in the permanent records or files of a case

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Bail:
A designated sum of money fixed by the court to secure a defendant's future appearance.

bail conditions set
the amount and type of bail ordered by the Judge. The Court may set bail conditions at arraignment.

bail is exonerated
bail is returned to the person who posted the bail; once the person is sentenced, any cash bail posted is exonerated less a 3% fee, and returned to the person who posted the bail, unless otherwise ordered by the court.

bail is forfeit
loss of bail for failure to meet conditions set by court. The bail is forfeit if the defendant does not appear as ordered and a warrant is issued.

bail is reinstated
bail previously forfeited is reapplied to the defendant. The court might reinstate bail if the defendant has an acceptable reason for not appearing in court.

bail is remitted
forfeited bail is reinstated and exonerated, and usually returned to the person who posted the bail.

Bench Warrant:
A written order directing a police officer to take into custody the defendant who had previously been arraigned and bring him or her before the court: a process of a criminal court in which a criminal action is pending, directing a police officer, or a uniformed court officer, pursuant to CPL 530.70(2)(b) to take into custody a defendant in such action who has previously been arraigned upon the accusatory instrument by which the action was commenced, and to bring him/her before such court [CPL 1.20(30)]

bill of particulars:
a written statement by the prosecutor specifying items of factual information which are not recited in the indictment and which pertain to the offense charged [See CPL 200.95 (1)(a).]

brief:
a written or printed document prepared by the lawyers on each side of a dispute and submitted to the court in support of their arguments - a brief includes the points of law which the lawyer wishes to
establish, the arguments he uses, and the legal authorities on which he rest his conclusions

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Calendar:
a list or schedule of cases to be heard in court or scheduled for appearance on a specific date.

calendar call:
the calling of cases to appear and be heard usually done at the beginning of each court day

capital case:
a case in which the death penalty may be imposed

case file:
the court file containing papers submitted in a case

Certificate of Conviction/Disposition:

A certified description of the disposition of a case.

Certificate of Relief From Disabilities:
A certificate that relieves an eligible offender of any forfeiture or disability, or removes any bar to his/her employment automatically imposed by law by reason of his/her conviction of a crime or an offense.

certify:
to testify in writing

challenge:
an exception taken to a juror before he/she is sworn

challenge the array:
to challenge to the entire panel of jurors called to serve
for a specific period of time

challenge for cause:
a challenge based on a legally specified reason

change of venue:
the removal of a suit or action begun in one county or district to another county or district for trial, though the term may also apply to the removal of a suit or action from one court to another court of
the same county or district

charge to jury:
in trial practice, an address delivered by the court to the jury at the close of the case instructing the jury as to what principles of law they are to apply in reaching a decision

clerk's extract:
a summary of a trial which is written by a clerk

clerk's minutes:
notes, which are taken by a clerk, of events that occurred in court

commissioner of jurors:
a person in charge of summoning citizens for jury duty

commitment order:
the action of a judicial officer ordering that a person subject to judicial proceedings be placed in a particular kind of confinement or residential facility, for a specific reason authorized by law

Concurrent Sentence:

Sentence of imprisonment which is to be served at the same time as another sentence is being served.

Conditional Discharge:
A sentence after conviction or plea of guilty that releases a defendant with respect to the conviction for which the sentence is imposed without imprisonment or probation supervision, subject to conditions determined by the court (Penal Law §65.05).

conformed copy:
a copy of an original document signed by the judge, indicated by /s/ judge's name

Consecutive Sentence:

A sentence to be served after a previously imposed sentence is completed.

contempt of court:
an act or omission tending to obstruct or interfere with the orderly administration of justice or to impair the dignity of the court or respect for its authority

Conviction:

A plea of guilty or a guilty verdict after trial: he entry of a plea of guilty to, or a verdict of guilty upon, an accusatory instrument other than a felony complaint, or to one or more counts of such instrument [CPL 1.20 (13)].

Coram Nobis:
A written court order vacating a judgment of a conviction.

corroborating evidence:
evidence supplementary to that already given and tending to support or confirm it

court reporter:
a person who transcribes by shorthand or stenographically takes down testimony during court proceedings

crime:
an offense which is designated in any law governing conduct as a misdemeanor or a felony - infractions and violations are not crimes

cross-examination:
questioning by a party or his/her attorney of an adverse party or a witness called by an adverse party

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decision:
the determination reached by a court or a jury in any judicial proceeding, which is the basis of the judgment

Defendant:

The party accused of committing an offense.

deliberation:
the process by which a panel of sequestered jurors comes to a decision on a verdict

deposition:
written testimony, always sworn, of a witness

direct examination
the first interrogation of a witness by the party on whose behalf he/she is called

discovery:
the procedural means by which one party to an action is informed as to facts known by other parties or witnesses

dismissal:
termination of a proceeding for a procedurally prescribed reason

dismissal without prejudice:
a dismissal in which the DA has leave to resubmit

dismissal with prejudice:
a dismissal on the merits preventing further or later proceedings on the same matter

dispose:
the act of terminating judicial proceeding

disposition:
the result of a judicial proceeding by order, judgment or sentence; The final outcome/end result.

docket:
a document which summarizes a case; also, the identifying number for a case

Docket Number:
A separate sequential unique number the court assigns manually or by computer to each action filed.

domestic violence registry:
a statewide electronic database of orders of protection and warrants

domicile:
that place where a person has his true and permanent home - a person may have several residences, but only one domicile

double jeopardy
the danger of twice being tried, convicted and punished for the same offense

Driving While Impaired:

Operating a motor vehicle when ability is impaired by the consumption of alcohol. See VTL § 1192(1); 1195(2)(b), (c).

dual jury trial (criminal bifurcated trial):
two separate trials, held simultaneously, with two juries, each deciding the guilt or innocence of the defendant - there are separate opening and closing statements for each of the defendants and where evidence pertains to only one defendant, the jury for the other defendant is excused - the juries are charged separately - referring only to the applicable law for the evidence each had heard

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et al
an abbreviation of et alia, meaning "and others"

evidence:
any species of proof including witness testimony, records, documents and material objects offered for admission at a trial or other proceeding in a court of law

execution
1. the performance of all acts necessary to render a written instrument complete, such as signing, sealing, acknowledging, and delivering the instruments,
2. supplementary proceedings to enforce a judgment, which, if monetary, involves a direction to the sheriff to take the necessary steps to collect the judgment

exemplification:

the authentication of an official record for use in evidence, by additional proof as to capacity of the person attesting it to be an official record

exhibit:
a paper, document or other article produced and exhibited to a court during a trial or hearing and, on being accepted, is marked for identification or admitted in evidence

ex parte:
an application, motion or proceeding by or on behalf of a party conducted in the absence of and without notice to the opposing party

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fee:
a fixed charge for service rendered

felony:
An offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed.

finding:
the court's decision on issues of fact

fine:
a sum imposed as punishment for an offense

foreperson:
a member of a jury appointed by the trial judge who must be the first juror called and sworn, who delivers the verdict to the court

Forfeiture of Bail:
Loss of bailor's funds because defendant fails to appear (CPL§540.10).

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grand jury:
a grand jury is a body of citizens consisting of not less than 16 and not more than 23 members - sixteen members are required for a quorum and 12 must concur to find an indictment

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habeas corpus:
"You have the body" - the name given a variety of writs whose object is to bring a person before a court or judge - in most common usage, it is directed to the official or person detaining another,
commanding him to produce the body of the prisoner or person detained so the court may determine if such person has been denied his liberty without due process of law

hearing:
a formal proceeding in which witnesses are heard and exhibits presented and the party proceeded against has the right to be heard in much the same manner as a non-jury trial

hearsay evidence:
testimony of a witness (usually oral) based on something heard from another

hung jury:
a jury whose members cannot reconcile their differences of opinion and thus cannot reach a verdict

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impaneling
the process by which jurors are selected and sworn to their task in camera in the judge's chamber out of the presence of the jury and the public

incompetency:
lack of legal qualification or fitness (physical, intellectual or moral fitness) to discharge a legally required duty

index number:
a number issued by the county clerk, which is used to identify a case - in civil matters there is usually a fee

indictment:
a written accusation by a grand jury, filed with a superior court, charging a person, or two or more persons jointly, with the commission of a crime, or with the commission of two or more offenses at least one of which is a crime

indictment number:
unique number assigned to an individual indictment

Indigent:

A person with no means of support.

Infraction (Traffic):
Generally, a violation of any provision of the VTL or other laws regulating traffic, other than a misdemeanor or felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 days.

information:
an accusation for a non-felony offense, in the nature of an indictment, but which is presented by a competent public officer (i.e., DA) instead of a grand jury

interpreter:
a person sworn at a trial to interpret the evidence of a foreign language, speaking or deaf person

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joint trial:
a trial where multiple actions are tried together

judgment:
the final determination of the rights of the parties in an action or proceeding - in criminal matters, it is an adjudication of guilt and fixing of punishment (conviction and sentence)

Jurisdiction:

The geographical boundaries of a city; the territory subject matter, or persons over which lawful authority may be exercised by a court or other justice agency, as determined by statute or constitution.

jury:
a prescribed number of men and women selected according to law and sworn to inquire of certain matters of fact and to declare the truth upon evidence to be laid before them in a judicial proceeding

jury instructions:
directions given by the judge to the jury concerning the law of the case

juvenile offender
a person between 13 to 15 years of age who is criminally responsible for certain acts as defined by the penal law

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legal aid
defense counsel assigned by court to represent an indigent

Long Form Information:
A written accusation by the arresting officer fully defining and describing the offense charged which serves as the basis for prosecution.

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minutes:
a record, kept by the part clerk, of a court proceeding noting significant events

Misdemeanor:

a crime for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of fifteen days may be imposed, but for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year cannot be imposed.

mistrial:
a trial which has been terminated and declared void prior to the reaching of verdict due to extraordinary circumstance, serious prejudicial misconduct or hung jury - it does not result in a
judgment for any party but merely indicates a failure of trial

Motion:

An oral or written request made by a party to the court.

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negligence:
conduct which falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm

Notice to Defendant of Intention to Offer Evidence (CPL§710.30 Notice):

Written evidence of a statement made by the defendant to a public servant/police officer spontaneously at the time of the incident. If voluntarily made, Notice of evidence of a statement made by the defendant to a public servant, which statement if voluntarily made, would render the evidence thereof suppressible; or, testimony regarding an observation of the defendant either at the time or place of the commission of the offense or upon some other occasion relevant to the case, to be given by a witness who has previously identified the defendant as such.

nunc pro tunc:
now for then

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oath:
a swearing to the truth of a statement which, if made by one who knows it to be false, may subject one to a prosecution for perjury or other legal proceedings

offense:
conduct for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment or to a fine is provided by any law, statute or rule governing conduct

opening statement:
the first address of counsel - in trials of criminal cases the district attorney must make opening statement

oral proof:
evidence given by word of mouth; the oral testimony of a witness

order:
a written or recorded direction of a court or judge other than a judgment to do or refrain from doing certain acts

order of protection (final or temporary):
a court order directing a defendant to comply with certain specified conditions for the purpose of protecting a person from injury, stalking and/or harassment

Order of Recognizance:

An order of the court releasing a defendant from custody during the pendency of the action. A person who is released on his/her own recognizance is released without bail.

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parties:
the persons who are actively concerned in the prosecution or defense of a legal proceeding

peremptory challenge:
the exercise by one of the parties to a jury trial of the right to reject a prospective juror without giving any reason

perjury:
the intentional making of a false statement as part of testimony by a sworn witness in a judicial proceeding on a matter material to the inquiry

People:
State of New York, normally represented by the DA, a special prosecutor or the attorney general

petition:
a formal written request to a court, which initiates a special proceeding

petit jury:
jury of twelve (or fewer) persons for the trial of a civil or criminal case (so called to distinguish it from the grand jury)

Plea:

An answer to a charge either in person or by mail.

pleading:
the process by which the parties in a suit or action alternately present written statements of their contentions, each responsive to that which precedes, and each serving to narrow the field of
controversy, until there evolves a single point, affirmed on one side and denied on the other, called the "issue" upon which they then go to trial

polling the jury:
a practice whereby the jurors are asked individually whether they assented, and still assent, to the verdict

precedent:
previously adjudged action or decision on same or similar point, serving as a rule or example

predicate felon:
a repeat felony offender

pre-sentence report:
a report issued prior to sentence, by the probation department or other agency containing the defendant's prior record and other relevant information about him/her, which will aid the judge in formulating a just sentence

probation:
a sentence whereby a defendant found guilty of a crime upon a verdict or plea of guilty is released by the court without imprisonment subject to conditions imposed by the court, under the supervision of a probation officer

proceeding:
the succession of events constituting the process by which judicial action is invoked and utilized pursuant to procedure

process:
a legal means, such as a summons, used to subject a defendant in a lawsuit to the jurisdiction of the court; broadly, refers to all writs issued in the course of a legal proceeding

pro-se:
see self-represented

prosecute:
to pursue for redress or punishment of a crime or violation of law in due legal form in court

Prosecutor:

A public official who represents the people in a traffic action.

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record (on the record):
the pleadings, the exhibits and the verbatim transcript made by the court reporter of all proceedings in a trial

recusal:
the act by which a judge disqualifies him/herself in a case

referee:
a person to whom a cause pending in a court is referred by the court to take testimony, hear the parties, and report thereon to the court - he is an officer exercising judicial powers and is an arm of the court for a specific purpose

release on recognizance (ROR):
releasing a defendant on the basis that he/she will return voluntarily, and that no bail amount need be posted

remittitur:
legal process by which an appellate court transmits to the court below the records and proceedings before it, together with its decision, for such further action and entry of judgment as required by the decision

respondant
the party who is being sued in a special proceeding; or the party against whom an appeal is taken

restitution
as part of a sentence or as a condition of a sentence of probation or conditional discharge, the act of restoring loss, damage or injury
reparation financial payment to redress a wrong or give satisfaction for an injury

restore to calendar:
to replace the same case on a calendar after it had been removed

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Scofflaw:
Suspension of a driver's license or privilege to drive and/or vehicle registration for failing to appear within 60 days of the last appearance date or for non-payment of a fine or surcharge.

Seal Order:
An order of a court mandating that a record be sealed from view by the public; to close a case file from public scrutiny - in instances of youthful offenders and favorable disposition, sealing orders are issued by the court to prevent the public from obtaining information on the case.

search warrant:
a court order directing a police officer to conduct a search of a designated premise, vehicle or person for the purpose of seizing designated property

securing order:
an order issued by the court when a principal whose further court appearance at a criminal action or proceeding is or may be required comes under the control of the court - this order either releases him/her on his/her own recognizance, fixes bail or commits the principal to the custody of the sheriff

self-represented:
for himself/herself, in his/her own behalf; in person; a party who, without representation, acts as his/her own attorney; pro se.

Sentence:

Imposition and entry of penalties upon a conviction.

sentence of imprisonment:
There are four types of sentences of imprisonment:

  • indeterminate - a sentence to a minimum period and a maximum term of imprisonment. The minimum period must be at least one year. The maximum term must be at least three years. Both the minimum and the maximum must be fixed by the court [e.g., PL § 70.00(1) to (3)]
  • determinate - a sentence to a specific term of imprisonment in excess of one year fixed by the court and served in a state correctional facility [e.g., PL §§ 70.04(3), 70.06(6)]
  • definite - a sentence to a specific term of imprisonment of one year or less fixed by the court and served in a local correctional facility [e.g., PL § 70.15]
  • intermittent - a revocable sentence of imprisonment, to be served on days or during certain periods of days, or both, specified by the court as part of the sentence [PL art. 85]

sequester:
to set apart or hold for safekeeping or awaiting some determination

service:
the exhibition or delivery of a writ, notice, etc., officially notifying a person of some action or proceeding in which he is concerned

severance:
the separation for purposes of pleading and/or trial, of multiple defendants named in a single charging document, or of multiple charges against a particular defendant listed in a single charging document

sex offender registry:
a computerized database that stores information on persons convicted of sex offenses

show cause:
an order, decree, execution, etc., to appear as directed, and present to the court such reasons and considerations as one has to offer why it should not be confirmed, take effect, or be executed, as the case may be

Simplified Traffic Information:

A written accusation by a police officer in a form described by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles which charges a person with one or more traffic infractions.

split sentence:
a sentence of incarceration to be followed by a period of probation supervision

special term:
a court room set aside to hear specific types of cases

statute of limitations:
a statute that declares that no actions of a specified kind be commenced after a specified period of time after the cause of action arose

stay:
a stopping or suspension of procedure or execution by judicial or executive order

stipulation:
an agreement by attorneys on opposite sides of a case as to any matter pertaining to the proceedings or trial - it is not binding unless assented to by the parties, and most stipulations must be in writing

sua sponte:
(the court upon it's own motion) a motion initiated by the court upon its own accord

Subpoena:

A written order directing a person to appear as a witness in a designated action or proceeding to give testimony; an official order to a person to attend court and to give testimony, records may also be subpoenaed.

Subpoena Duces Tecum:
A written order requiring the production of specified physical evidence (i.e., books, papers or other things).

summons:
a process issued by a local criminal court directing a person to appear before it at a designated future time in connection with a particular proceeding; a process served by a plaintiff or a defendant to commence a civil action or proceeding

Supporting Deposition:

           (1) A written document subscribed and verified by a person other than the complainant detailing factual allegations of an evidentiary nature concerning the offense charged (CPL § 100.20).
          (2) A supporting deposition requested by a defendant charged by a simplified information is prepared by the complainant police officer or public servant detailing factual allegations providing reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed the offense charged (CPL § 100.25).

suppression:
the exclusion of evidence

surety:
one who formally contracts to be responsible for the obligations of another person

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testimony:
an oral declaration made by a witness or party under oath

transcript:
the official record of proceedings in a trial or hearing

transfer:
the removal of a cause from the jurisdiction of one court or judge to another by lawful authority

Trial:

Judicial examination of issues between parties to an action.

TSLED:
Traffic Safety Law Enforcement of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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UTT:
Uniform Traffic Ticket.

Unconditional Discharge (UCD):
A sentence after conviction or plea of guilty that imposes no restrictions.

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vacate:
to set aside a previous action

venire:
technically, a writ summoning persons to court to act as jurors; popularly used as meaning the body of names thus summoned

venue:
the particular county, city or geographical area in which a court with jurisdiction may hear and determine a case

verdict:
the announcement by a jury in the case of a jury trial, or by the court in the case of a non-jury trial, of its decision upon the defendant’s guilt or innocence of the charges submitted to or considered by it

verification:
confirmation of the correctness, truth or authenticity of pleading, account or other paper by an affidavit or oath

Violation:

an offense other than a traffic infraction for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of fifteen days cannot be imposed

voir dire:
a questioning of prospective jurors by the attorneys, and the judge, to see if any of them should be disqualified or removed by challenge or examination

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waiver:
an intentional and voluntary relinquishment of some known right

waiver of indictment:
a defendant gives up his rights to a grand jury hearing - instead, a superior court information (SCI) is filed by the prosecutor, and the defendant is arraigned thereon

witness:
one who testifies to what he has seen, heard, or otherwise observed

writ:

an order issuing from a court and requiring the performance of a specified act, or giving authority and commission to have it done

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Youth:
a person charged with a crime alleged to have been committed when at least sixteen years old and less than nineteen years old or a person charged with being a juvenile offender

Youthful Offender finding:
a finding, substituted for the conviction of an eligible youth, pursuant to a determination that the eligible youth is a youthful offender


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