News & Current Affairs

By Ben Aulich & Associates Ben Aulich & Associates


25 terms you’ll hear in an Australian court

Going to court is difficult enough without the vast array of complex legal terminology that’s used by judges and lawyers. Here at Ben Aulich & Associates , we’re committed to making court proceedings go as smoothly as possible for you. So, we’ve created this glossary of some of the most common terms you might hear at court.

Abet – This is when someone helps another person to commit an offence.

Acquittal – When someone is set free from a criminal charge.

Adjournment – This is when court proceedings are postponed to another day.

Appeal – An appeal involves challenging a court’s decision by applying to a higher court, which will hear the case and provide a second judgement. The original decision may be either overturned or not interfered with.

Applicant – This is the person or organisation which applies to the Court to start legal proceedings. Also known as a plaintiff in some civil proceedings.

Bail – This is when an accused person is released temporarily while they wait for trial. Often bail is granted on certain conditions excluding contact with people or requiring regular reporting to the nearest police station and so on. A cash surety can be put forward as a further condition of bail.

Bench – Where the judge sits in a courtroom.

Consent order – This is normally an agreement between the two parties in a court case, that once agreed to becomes a court order. If anyone breaks the agreement it may be classed as a contravention (see below) and they will be liable for further punishment.

Contravention – When a court finds that an individual or organisation has not followed a court order.

Complaint – A formal legal document that sets out the reasons the applicant or plaintiff is bringing a case against the defendant.

Court order – This is when a court orders an individual or party to carry out certain actions.

Defendant – The person that the criminal proceedings has been brought against. They are defending themselves against the charge. The individual or group in question, combined with their lawyers, are known as the defence.

Extradition – When one state delivers a party to another state for trial of a crime.

Indictable offence – This is when a party is charged with a more serious offence and must complete the matter as a sentence hearing or trial in a higher court such as a state Territory or Supreme Court.

Hung jury – When the jury isn’t able to reach a verdict at the conclusion of a trial.

Jury – A jury is made up of 12 people from the community, without legal experience, who will determine whether a party is guilty or not.

Larceny – This is another word for theft.

Magistrates court – The lowest tier of courts with jurisdiction to hear summary or minor charges and less complex civil proceedings.

Parole – When a prisoner is released before the end of their sentence, normally for good behaviour. It is usually conditional that they do not commit a further crime.

Pre-trial hearing – This is when the opposing parties meet before the trial to narrow down certain issues and decide which ones they should discuss during the trial.

Rebuttal – When evidence is called that disputes or discredits a piece of evidence given before.

Sentence – The penalty imposed by the court when a party is found to be guilty by the court or enters a plea of guilty.

Summary offence – Unlike an indictable offence, a summary offence is minor and is tried before a magistrate without requiring a jury.

Under oath – When a witness is under oath they are sworn to only tell the truth. The witness can swear on a religious text or by secular affirmation.

Youth court – This is especially set up for young persons up to the age of 18. The trial takes place without a jury in a closed court.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence in the ACT, the team at Ben Aulich & Associates are here to help you every step of the way. For more information, give us a call today.