Office of the DeKalb County District Attorney

Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit

Sherry Boston, District Attorney

Criminal Justice Terminology

Accusation
Charging device used by a prosecutor’s office for certain crimes.

Arraignment
Formal hearing in which the accused enters a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Bench Trial
A trial in which the Judge is the finder of fact, not a jury.

Bind Over
When the case is transferred from a Municipality, Magistrate Court, or State Court to the Superior Court/District Attorney’s Office.

Bond
The mechanism that allows a defendant out of jail pending his/her trial.

Bond Revocation
If the defendant is accused of violating any conditions place on the bond order that allows the defendant out of jail, a hearing takes place to determine the consequences (usually jail time).

Contempt of Court
When a person violates a civil order of the court.

District Attorney’s Office
The office that prosecutes felony cases on behalf of the State of Georgia.

Defendant
The person who is accused of a criminal act.

Draw Accusation and/or Indictment
Process in which the prosecutor determines what crimes to charge against the defendant.

Discovery
Term to describe the official procedure for a defendant/attorney to obtain legal information about the State’s case.

Diversion Program
Programs for defendants who are first time offenders for certain crimes. Successful completion would likely result in the dismissal of criminal charges.

Family Violence Act (FVA)
The section of the Georgia Criminal Code that defines which crimes and relationships between the parties are qualified for Temporary Protective Orders and heightened criminal consequences.

Grand Jury
A jury of 23 people hear evidence presented by the District Attorney’s Office regarding felony charges. The charges are drawn on a document called an indictment. Felonies such as rape, murder and armed robbery are always presented to the Grand Jury. However, some felonies may be charged by accusation instead of indictment.

Habitual Violator
A person who has a recidivist record will be identified as habitual violator.

Indictment
A formal charging document that is produced by the District Attorney’s Office through the Grand Jury and is submitted to the Clerk as the official charge(s) against a defendant. These are the charges that the State is required to prove in a trial.

Jury Trial
A trial in which a jury of people is the finder of fact.
Motions
Procedures in which the prosecutor and defense attorney argue in front of a Judge about what specifically is and is not allowed in a pending trial.

No Bill
The term is used when a Grand Jury does not find sufficient evidence to proceed with charges against a defendant.

Nolle Prosequi
The procedure in which the prosecutor used to dismiss a case after the charges have been filed with the Court.

Nolo Contendere
A plea in which the defendant is not admitting to guilt but is not contesting the charge.

Not Presented to Grand Jury (NPGJ)
The procedure that the prosecutor uses to dismiss a case prior to the charges being filed with the Court.

Preliminary Hearing
A hearing in front of a Magistrate Court Judge to gain more information from the parties involved as it relates to probable cause.

Probable Cause
The measure of standard required before a Magistrate Court Judge can issue a warrant for criminal arrest.

Probation
An alternative to jail that often includes various conditions that the defendant must comply. Usually counseling and or treatment.

Probation Revocation
A hearing to determine if the defendant has violated conditions of his/her probation and subsequent consequences.

Prosecutor
The attorney for the State of Georgia.

Public Defender or Defense Attorney
The attorney for the accused.

Reasonable Doubt
The level of proof required by the State to prove the charges at trial.

Restitution
The amount of money the Judge orders the defendant to pay at sentencing to reimburse a victim for out of pocket expenses.

Temporary Protective Order (TPO)
A special type of “restraining order” for the relief of violence or stalking defined under the law.

True Bill
The term is used when a Grand Jury does find sufficient evidence to proceed with charges against a defendant.

Victim Compensation
A State of Georgia program, through the Governor’s Office, of financial support for victims of crime for out of pocket expenses related to a crime. Types of expenses include; medical, funeral, mental health, lost wages, and loss of support.