Glossary of Legal Terms
The Legal Terms Glossary offers clear explanations for more than 100 frequently encountered legal terms, making them easily comprehensible.
Abduction: The act of forcibly taking someone against their will, often involving minors.
Accessory After the Fact: A person who assists another in evading authorities after the commission of a crime.
Accomplice: A person who helps another commit a crime.
Accused: The individual charged with a crime.
Acquittal: A legal judgment declaring someone not guilty of a criminal charge.
Adjournment: Temporarily postponing court proceedings.
Adjudication: The legal process of resolving a dispute or deciding a case.
Affidavit: A written sworn statement of fact.
Aggravated Assault: An assault causing serious harm, disfigurement, or maiming.
Aggravating Factors: Circumstances that increase the severity or culpability of a crime.
Alberta Court of Appeal: The highest appellate court in Alberta.
Alberta Court of Justice: A provincial court in Alberta dealing with most criminal offences and the proceedings that follow.
Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS): The office responsible for prosecuting offences in Alberta.
Alberta Justice: The provincial government department overseeing legal and judicial matters in Alberta.
Alibi: A claim or proof that one was elsewhere when a crime occurred.
Alternative Measures/Diversion: Programs allowing offenders to avoid criminal conviction if certain conditions are met.
Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court): A party not involved in a case but offers information, expertise, or insight.
Ankle Monitoring: Electronic devices worn to track an individual’s location, usually for bail or probation.
Animal Offences: Crimes related to the mistreatment or harm of animals.
Animal Protection Act (Alberta): Legislation aimed at preventing cruelty to animals.
Appeals: Requests to a higher court to review and provides an opportunity to change the decision of a lower court.
Arrest Warrants: Judicial orders directing law enforcement to arrest an individual.
Arson: Intentionally setting fire to property, causing damage or harm.
Assault: Threat or use of force on another leading to fear of harm or actual harm.
Assault Causing Bodily Harm: An assault resulting in significant physical injury.
Assault with a Weapon: Using a weapon to threaten or inflict harm.
Bail: Temporary release from custody while awaiting trial, sometimes requiring a payment guarantee.
Bench Warrant: An arrest warrant issued by a judge.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The standard of proof required to convict in a criminal trial.
Breathalyzer Test: A test measuring alcohol concentration in a person’s breath.
Breaking and Entering: Illegally entering a property, typically with intent to commit another crime.
Bribery: Offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting something of value to influence an action.
Calgary Police Service (CPS): The primary law enforcement agency in Calgary, Alberta.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: A foundational and constitutional document guaranteeing fundamental rights in Canada.
Child Abuse: Physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment of a child.
Child Pornography: The production, distribution, or possession of explicit images or videos of minors.
Circumstantial Evidence: Evidence that suggests a conclusion but doesn’t directly prove it.
Complainant: The person who files a complaint or raises a formal accusation.
Conditional Discharge: Releasing a person without a conviction, on a Probation Order with conditions to fulfill.
Conditional Sentence Order (CSO): A sentence served in the community rather than in jail, under specific conditions.
Confession: A formal admission of guilt.
Conspiracy: An agreement between two or more persons to commit an unlawful act.
Conspiracy to Commit…: Planning with others to commit a specific crime.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act: Canadian legislation governing the control of illegal drugs.
Correctional Services: Institutions and services for the detention and rehabilitation of offenders.
Corruption: Unlawful practices, typically involving bribery or fraud, by those in power.
Counterfeiting: Producing a fraudulent replica of something, often money.
Court of King’s Bench of Alberta: A superior court in Alberta dealing with serious criminal and civil matters.
Co-accused: More than one person being accused of the same crime.
Criminal Code of Canada: The codified law that outlines criminal offences and procedures in Canada.
Criminal Harassment: Unwanted actions like stalking, which cause the victim to fear for their safety.
Criminal Negligence: Recklessly acting without regard for the safety or lives of others.
Cross-Examination: Questioning a witness in court by the opposing side.
Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS): The body responsible for prosecuting the majority of criminal cases in Alberta.
Custodial Sentence: A punishment involving imprisonment.
Customs Act: Legislation governing the duties and controls on goods entering or leaving Canada.
Cybercrime: Crimes committed over the internet or using computers.
Cyberstalking: Using electronic means to harass or intimidate another person.
Dangerous Dogs Act (Alberta): Legislation regulating the ownership of breeds deemed to be a public threat.
Dangerous Offender: An individual classified as posing a significant threat to the public.
Dangerous Operation: Recklessly operating a vehicle, putting others at risk.
Defence Counsel: Lawyers representing the accused in criminal proceedings.
Defence of Another: Justifying an act by claiming it was done to defend another person.
Defence of Property: Justifying an act by claiming it was done to protect one’s property.
Defences: Legal arguments used to challenge or negate criminal liability.
Delinquency: Minor crimes, typically committed by young individuals.
Direct Examination: The initial questioning of a witness by the party that called them.
Disclosure: The process of the prosecution providing evidence to the defence.
Disposition: The final settlement or resolution of a legal matter.
Disorderly Conduct: Behaving disruptively or offensively in public.
Disturbing the Peace: Engaging in disruptive behavior or causing a public disturbance.
DNA: Molecules containing an individual’s genetic code, often used as evidence.
Double Jeopardy: The legal principle preventing an individual from being tried twice for the same crime.
Driving Offences: Violations related to the operation of motor vehicles.
Driving Over .80: Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content over 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Drugs: Substances affecting the mind or body, often regulated by law.
Duress Defence: A claim that actions were committed due to threats or force by another.
Electronic Surveillance: Using technology to monitor and record individuals’ actions.
Embezzlement: Fraudulently taking money or property entrusted to one’s care.
Emergency Protection Order (EPO): A short-term protection order for those at immediate risk of violence.
Endangerment to Health or Life: Acts putting another person’s health or life at risk.
Entrapment: Law enforcement inducing a person to commit a crime they wouldn’t otherwise commit.
Evidence: Information or items used to prove facts in legal proceedings.
Exclusion of Evidence: Preventing certain evidence from being presented in court.
Exculpatory Evidence: Evidence that can exonerate or clear an accused of blame.
Expert Witness: A person with specialized knowledge called to testify in court.
Extradition: The transfer of an individual from one jurisdiction or country to another for prosecution or punishment.
Eyewitness Identification: Recognizing and identifying a suspect based on a witness’s memory.
False Imprisonment: Unlawfully restricting another’s freedom of movement.
False Pretences: Obtaining something through deception.
Firearms: Weapons that discharge projectiles via an explosion.
First Degree Murder: Premeditated, intentional killing; the most serious form of homicide.
First Nations Offenders: Indigenous individuals who have committed criminal offences.
Forensic Evidence: Scientific evidence used in court, often from crime scene analysis.
Forgery: Creating or altering documents with intent to deceive.
Fraud: Deception for personal gain or to cause loss to another.
Gang-Related Offences: Crimes linked to organized gang activity.
Genetic Genealogy: Using DNA sequences to trace ancestry and relationships; an emerging investigative instrument.
Gladue Report: A pre-sentencing report considering an Indigenous offender’s background.
Habeas Corpus: Legal action requiring a prisoner or detainee before a court to determine if the individual’s imprisonment or detention is lawful.
Hate Crimes: Offences motivated by bias, prejudice, or hatred toward a particular group.
Human Trafficking: Illegally transporting people, often across borders, for forced labour or sexual exploitation.
Identity Theft: Illegally obtaining and using someone else’s personal information.
Immigration Offences: Violations of immigration laws and regulations.
Impaired Driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Importation of Prohibited Firearms: Bringing banned firearms into a jurisdiction.
Incriminating Evidence: Evidence indicating an individual’s involvement in a crime.
Indictable Offence: A serious crime that warrants a formal trial process in Canada.
Indictment: A formal charge or accusation of a serious crime.
Informant: Someone who provides information about criminal activity, often confidentially.
Injunction: A court order requiring someone to do or cease doing a specific action.
Inmate: A person incarcerated in a correctional facility.
Interrogation: The act of questioning someone, often in a police context.
Investigative Detention: A temporary detention for investigative purposes.
Judicial Interim Release: The release of an accused person from custody while awaiting trial.
Jurisprudence: The study or philosophy of law; also refers to case law.
Jury Selection: The process of choosing jurors for a trial.
Kidnapping: Unlawfully taking and detaining a person against their will.
Legal Aid Alberta: An organization providing legal assistance to those who can’t afford it in Alberta.
Long Term Offender: An offender subjected to supervision in the community after serving time.
Luring a Child: Using electronic means to entice a child for exploitative purposes.
Malicious Prosecution: Initiating a wrongful prosecution with malice.
Manslaughter: Unintentionally causing the death of a person, without malice.
Mental Health Related Offences: Crimes committed due to or during a mental health episode.
Mischief: Deliberate destruction or damage to property.
Mitigating Factors: Circumstances that reduce the blameworthiness of an offender.
Money Laundering: Processing unlawfully obtained money through a series of transactions to make it appear legitimate.
Murder: Intentionally causing the death of another person.
Necessity Defence: Claiming an illegal act was necessary to prevent a greater harm.
No-Contact Order: Court order prohibiting someone from contacting specified individuals.
Not Criminally Responsible (NCR): A defence stating an individual was mentally unfit during a crime.
Obstruction of Justice: Interfering with the legal process or its participants.
Occupational Health and Safety: Laws ensuring worker safety and health.
Offences Against the Administration of Justice: Crimes that interfere with the functioning of the justice system.
Organized Crime: Criminal activities conducted by structured groups.
Pardons/Record Suspensions: Official forgiveness for a crime, preventing its appearance in most record checks.
Parole: Conditional early release from imprisonment.
Peace Bond: An order to keep the peace and good behavior.
Perjury: Lying under oath in a legal proceeding.
Photo Line Up: A procedure where a witness identifies a suspect from photographs.
Plea Bargain: An agreement between prosecution and defence, usually involving a guilty plea for reduced charges or sentencing.
Possession of Controlled Substances: Having drugs or chemicals whose possession is regulated by law.
Possession of Property Obtained by Crime: Having items known to be gained through criminal activity.
Possession of Stolen Property: Holding items that one knows (or should know) are obtained unlawfully.
Preliminary Inquiry: Judicial review to assess if there’s sufficient evidence for a criminal trial.
Prescription Fraud: Unlawfully obtaining medication by faking or altering a prescription.
Proceeds of Crime: Money or assets gained from criminal activity.
Professional Conduct: Standards governing behaviour of professionals like doctors, police, teachers.
Prohibition Order: A legal order restricting certain activities or behaviours.
Property Offences: Crimes involving theft or damage to property.
Pro Bono: Legal services provided for free or at a reduced rate.
Provincial Offences: Non-criminal offences at the provincial level, such as traffic violations.
Public Mischief: Misleading police or falsifying evidence, wasting public resources.
Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC): Federal body responsible for prosecuting offences.
Publication Bans: Court orders preventing media from reporting specific details of a case.
Racketeering: Operating illegal businesses or schemes.
Recognizance: An obligation by law without a bond being posted.
Recant: Withdrawal of a statement or accusation previously made.
Recidivism: Tendency of a convicted person to reoffend.
Rehabilitation: Process of reintegrating offenders into society.
Remand: Detention of a person awaiting trial.
Restitution: Requiring an offender to compensate a victim.
Restorative Justice: A system focusing on repairing the harm caused by crime.
Restricted Weapons: Weapons that can only be owned with special authorization.
Right to Counsel: Legal right to have representation in court.
Robbery: Theft with violence or threat of violence.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP): Canada’s federal and national law enforcement agency.
Search and Seizure: Process of police searching an individual/place and taking evidence.
Search Warrant: Court order authorizing the police to search a location and seize evidence.
Securities Fraud: Misrepresenting information investors use to make decisions.
Self-Defence: Justifying a criminal act as taken to defend oneself.
Sentence: Punishment assigned to an accused found guilty.
Sexual Assault: Sexual activity without consent.
Sexual Interference: Sexual contact with a minor.
Sexual Offender Registry (SOIRA): Database containing details of convicted sexual offenders.
Solicitation: Urging someone to commit a crime.
Stalking: Persistent harassment or pursuit of a person.
Statutory Release: Automatic release after serving a certain portion of a sentence.
Stay of Proceedings: Stopping the prosecution processes temporarily or permanently.
Subpoena: Order to attend court or produce evidence.
Summary Conviction Appeals: Appeals for minor cases, heard by the Court of King’s Bench in the Province of Alberta.
Summary Conviction Offences: Less serious offences with shorter maximum sentences.
Supreme Court of Canada: Highest court in Canada.
Supreme Court of Canada Appeals: Appeals heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Tax Evasion: Illegally avoiding the payment of taxes.
Testify: Give evidence as a witness in a court.
Theft: Taking someone’s property without permission.
Traffic Offences: Violations of traffic laws.
Traffic Safety Act (Alberta): Provincial law governing road safety in the Province of Alberta.
Trespassing: Entering someone else’s property without permission.
Undercover Operations: Police or agents working in disguise or covertly to gather evidence or information about criminal activity.
Unfit to Stand Trial: A legal determination that an individual lacks the mental capacity to understand the proceedings against them or to instruct a defence.
Vehicle Offences: Criminal or regulatory offences related to the operation, possession, or use of motor vehicles.
Victim Impact Statement: A written or verbal statement made by the victim or their family during the sentencing phase of court proceedings, describing the effects of the crime on them.
Victim Services: Organizations or programs designed to assist victims of crime, providing emotional support, legal information, or other resources.
Voir Dire: A trial within a trial, often used to determine the admissibility of evidence or the competency of a witness.
Voluntariness: The principle that actions or statements are made freely without coercion, duress, or undue influence, especially in legal contexts like confessions.
Warrants: A legal document authorizing an action, such as an arrest or a search.
White Collar Crime: Non-violent crimes committed for financial gain, often in a professional or business setting.
Wildlife Offences: Violations of laws or regulations concerning the protection, conservation, or management of wild animals and their habitats.
Witness Protection: A program or set of measures designed to protect witnesses (especially in criminal trials) from retaliation or harm.
Witness Tampering: Interfering with a witness’s testimony or trying to prevent them from testifying, which can include threats, bribes, or any form of intimidation.
Young Offenders: Refers to individuals who commit crimes under the age of 18.
Youth Criminal Justice Act: The primary legal framework in Canada governing the prosecution and treatment of young persons.
3D Printed Firearms: Guns manufactured using 3D printing technology, often without serial numbers or traditional purchase and registration methods.