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Glossary Category:

(Beyond a) Reasonable Doubt

As close to an absolute certainty as possible. There must be no other logical explanation except that the defendant committed the crime.

Accused

A person charged with committing a criminal offence.

Acquittal

The decision that a person accused of a crime is found not guilty. Once acquitted, a person cannot be tried again for the same offence.

Alleged

An unproven accusation. This includes a criminal charge that has not yet been proved in court. Lawyers and the courts use this term because accused people have the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in court. Use of this word does not mean that the lawyer does not believe you.

Appeal

To have a trial decision reviewed by a higher Court. This is not a new trial and no witnesses are required to give evidence.

Arraignment/First Appearance

This is often the first court appearance for an accused person following an arrest. The accused is read the charge(s) against them and will either plead guilty or not guilty.

Assault

An intentional use of force by one person against another person, or an attempted or threatened use of force. There may or may not be injuries.

Burden of proof

In a criminal matter, the burden of proof is on the Crown. This means that the Crown must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A defendant doesn’t have to prove their innocence.

In a civil matter, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant has likely caused them harm.

Civil Court

The system for legal cases that involve settling disputes between private individuals, or a claim between a person and government, business, etc. This can include suing another person, disputing a contract, settling issues related to a separation or divorce, or many other issues and cases.

Complainant

The term often used by police or the courts to refer to a person who has made a complaint about a criminal incident to police. The complaint may or may not lead to criminal charges against an accused person.