Understand your rights and responsibilities within the legal system. Whether it’s an interaction with law enforcement, understanding the elements of different criminal offenses, or being aware of the potential consequences of certain actions, an understanding of these situations can be crucial.

Glossary of 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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