October 1, 2014
Definition of Terms

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Appeal
A request to a higher court for review of a lower court ruling. 

Arraignment
Bringing a defendant before a judicial officer to allow him or her to hear the charges that were filed and make a plea.

Arrest

Seizure of alleged or suspected offender to answer for a crime.

Bailiff
A person assigned by a sheriff or marshal to provide security to the court

Calendar
A categorized list of cases to be heard in a court at specific dates and times; to assign a date, time, and court to a case.

Case
A legal dispute brought to a court for resolution

Case Number
The number assigned to a case upon it filing in court.

Certified Copy
An official copy of a particular document from a case file that is notated as a true, complete, and authentic representation of the original document.

Charge
In criminal law, the formal statement of each accusation against a defendant.

Citation
A ticket issued by an officer for violating a traffic statute.

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Civil Collections
When the Court issues a civil judgment against your case the outstanding fine can be pursued civilly by the County's Collection Agency. This civil judgment may be collected the same way as any other civil judgment: by attachment of your wages, bank accounts, other property, or by tax intercept of any tax refunds. The civil judgment will remain in effect for 10 years or until paid.

Commissioner
A person appointed by the court that is given the power to hear and made decisions concerning certain legal matters.

Contempt of Court
An act or omission that obstructs the orderly administration of justice or impairs the dignity respect, or authority of the court.

Contested
A case in which evidence is introduced by both parties.

Continuance
A request to postpone a court date.

Conviction
The determination of guilt based on a plea, jury, verdict, or a finding of a judicial officer.

Count
One of what maybe numerous charges filed, each for alleged violation of a separate offense.

Court
A judge or body of judges whose task is to hear cases and administer justice.

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Court Costs
The money needed to pay for the operation of the court system.

Court Trial
A trial in which there is no jury and in which a judicial officer determines both the issues of fact and the law in a case.

Crime
An act or failure to act that violates a law for which a penalty (usually a fine, jail or probation) is set by the State.

Decision
A judgment or decree that settles a legal issue.

Declaration
A formal document, not necessarily made under oath, setting forth the facts that support's party's legal allegations.

Defendant
A person required to answer a criminal accusation or civil complaint.

Defense
A denial, answer, or plea disputing the correctness of the charges against a defendant.

Docket
The permanent, cumulative record of all proceedings of a case; a list of cases on a court's calendar.

Driver's License
A valid license to drive the type of motor vehicle or combination of vehicles for which a person is licensed under this code or by a foreign jurisdiction

Evidence
Documents, testimony of parties or witnesses, or physical objects presented as proof during trial.

Exonerate
To clear from blame or to relieve of responsibility.

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FTA - Failure to Appear
When you fail to appear as promised on the citation you signed, the Court will file a complaint charging you with Failure to Appear, under section 40508A of the California Vehicle Code, and will also impose a civil assessment under section 1214.1 of the Penal Code. In addition, The Department of Motor Vehicles will be notified to withhold renewal of your driver's license and your driving privilege may be suspended. You may also be Tried in Absentia and a Civil Judgment entered against you.

FTP - Failure to Pay Fine
When you fail to pay a fine imposed by the Court, your case becomes a failure to pay and a DMV HOLD is placed on your driver's license.

Finding
A determination of fact by a judicial officer or jury.

Fix-it-Ticket
Colloquial term for a traffic citation issued due to a mechanical malfunction on a vehicle.

Guilty
Found beyond a reasonable doubt to have committed a crime.

Hearing
A constitutionally required formal proceeding where the accused is given notice of charges brought against him or her and where the accused has an opportunity to present a defense.

Infraction
A minor violation of a law, contract, or right that is not a misdemeanor or a felony and that cannot be punished by imprisonment.

Judge
An elected or appointed individual empowered by law to hear and determine disposition of legal issue.

Motion
An oral or written request made by a party to the court for a ruling or an order on a parties point.

Offense
An act that violates the law.

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Plea
A formal statement of a defendant in response to a criminal accusation.

Public Record
A court record available for inspection by the general public.

Referee
A person appointed by the court to hear and make decisions on certain limited legal matters.

Registered Owner
A "registered owner" is a person registered by the department as the owner of a vehicle.

Sentence
The formal pronouncement by a court stating the punishment to be imposed on a person convicted of a criminal offense.

Subpoena
A writ issued by a court that compels a person to appear and give testimony at a specified time and place.

Testify
To give evidence under oath.

Traffic
The term "traffic" includes pedestrians, ridden animals, vehicles, street cars, and other conveyances, either singly or together, while using any highway for purposes of travel.

Traffic Offense
An act or omission, which relates to the regulation of traffic on the roads, highways or streets or the operation of self-propelled or non-self- propelled vehicles of any kind and for which, upon conviction, imprisonment or fine, or both imprisonment and fine, is authorized.

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Traffic Violator School
A "traffic violator school" is a business that, for compensation provides, or offers to provide, instruction in traffic safety, including, but not limited to, classroom.

Tried in Absentia
The Court will hold a trial without you being present.

Warrant
A written order issued and signed by a judicial officer directing a peace officer to take specific action.
  • Arrest - Commands a peace officer to arrest and bring before the court.
  • Bench - A written order issued by the court from the judge or bench commanding a person's arrest for failure to appear in court, for contempt, or after indictment by a grand jury.
  • Search - An order issued by a judge, based on a finding of probable cause

Witness
A person who has knowledge of facts having to do with a case being tried and who gives testimony.

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