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.

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