criminal defenses - An assertion of law made to the trial court in a criminal proceeding alleging that the conduct of the defendant was either excused or is protected by an established defense to the crime such as self-defense.
criminal immunity- The district attorney in a criminal case can negotiate with the defendant granting immunity in exchange for testimony in the prosectuion of another defendant.
competent- The state of mind of a criminal defendant wherein he or she understands the charges against him or her and can assist in his or her own defense. A court cannot try someone who is not competent to stand trial.
confess- The voluntary admission of guilt made to law enforcement. It can be in the form of a written document or verbal confession captured on tape. A confession must be voluntary and knowing. It cannot be the product of coercion or threat. The Miranda warnings are designed to combat the tendency for law enforcement to extract forced confessions from suspects while in custody.
confession and avoidance- When a defendant admits the allegations in a criminal complaint but alleges other facts making up an affirmative defense offered to prove that the criminal allegations do not prove a case.
confrontation- The right of a criminal defendant to confront the witnesses against him or her. Confrontation includes the right to cross examination, which is said to be the great steam engine to the truth.
defendant- A party who is sued or, criminally charged.
diminished capacity- A mitigating defense used to establish the absence of malice by the defendant when he or she committed the violent act. It is not considered a form of insanity but rather a suspended mental state where passion and emotional stress dominated the defendants actions and thoughts such that he or she could not act rationally or be aware of the reasonable consequences of his or her actions. Many states no longer permit this defense.
immunity- A person who would otherwise be guilty of a crime is granted exemption from all prosecution and penalties arising out of that crime. Most often, the government grants immunity in exchange for the promise to testify against another defendant against whom the government seeks to secure a conviction.
incompetent- A defendant who cannot fully appreciate or understand the charges being brought against him or her and/or cannot assist in their defense may be judged incompetent to stand trial.Often the defendant is institutionalized until such time that competency returns.
innocent- One who is found to be not guilty of a crime.
insanity defense- For criminal defense purposes it is the mental state of a defendant during a commission of crime, such that, at the time the defendant was committing the crime, he or she could not tell the difference between right and wrong nor did he or she appreciate the wrongfulness of conduct. This state of mind, if proved, can be a total and complete defense to a crime.
mitigating circumstances- Those circumstances surrounding the commission of a crime which reveal the lack of serious criminal intent. These conditions compel justice to favor leniency towards the defendant.
sequester- To keep separate or apart. In so-called "high-profile" criminal prosecutions (involving major crimes, events or persons given wide publicity) the jury is sometimes "sequestered" in a hotel without access to news media, the general public or their families except under supervision, in order to prevent the jury from being "tainted" by information or opinions about the trial outside of the evidence in the courtroom. A witness may be sequestered from hearing the testimony of other witnesses, commonly called being "excluded," until after he/she has testified, supposedly to prevent that witness from being influenced by other evidence or tailoring his/her testimony to fit the stories of others.
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