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Legal English Vocabulary for the Courtroom

In this article, you will study some of the most important words used in courtrooms across the UK.

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If you are a lawyer, notary, law student, translator or judge then learning legal english vocabulary can help you in your professional life. In this article, you will learn some vocabulary for the courtroom.


Accuse

If you accuse someone, you are suggesting that someone committed a crime.

It is frequently used in the passive voice, to describe the state of someone who is accused or was accused of something.

The policeman accused him of mugging the old lady.


Advocate

The advocate is the name used for the professional who speaks on behalf of the accused in court.

Her advocate spoke well in court but to no avail.


Appeal

To apply to a higher court to change a lower court's decision.

The evidence was clear in this case. We are going to have to appeal


Arrest

To take someone who allegedly broke the law into police custody. It is usually used in the passive.

The hotel owner was arrested last night for trespass.  


Barrister

A barrister is a specialist lawyer working in the UK and in some commonwealth countries who offers specialist advice to solicitors and litigates in the Crown Court and higher courts.

The solicitor instructed the barrister on the Mosley case.


Charge

To formally accuse someone of a crime.

The police charged him with common assault this morning.


Case

A case is the term for a legal action—something that may be decided on in court.

The Crown Prosection Service had built a strong case against the mugger.


Civil law

Any part of the law that is not criminal law is covered by civil law. It is related to the rights of individuals and organisations.

She practices civil law and works in the personal injury department of a large law firm.


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Courtroom

The room where a court case is head.

The hearing will be in courtroom six in ten minutes. 


Crown Court

The court where serious criminal cases are heard.

The case has been listed to be heard in the Crown Court in April.


Criminal law

The law that punishes criminals and people who have committed offences that negatively affect society as a whole.

She practices criminal law. Right now she’s working on a manslaughter case.


Defendant

The person who has been accused of a crime. This word is used in court procedure specifically.

The defendant is accused of dangerous driving.


Evidence

The material used by the prosecution to build a case against the accused.

There is enough evidence to convict him. 


Fine

An amount of money that you have to pay if convicted of a minor crime.

I received a parking ticket and have to pay a fine


Guilty

The court finds you guilty if they can prove that you committed a crime. After a criminal trial, someone is “found guilty” or “found not guilty”

He was found guilty by the jury and will probably be imprisoned.


Illegal

Anything deemed to be against the law is considered illegal.

It is illegal to commit a crime.


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Judge

The person who makes the final decision in a legal case.

My father is a judge. He works in the Crown Court.


Jury

The group of citizens in some criminal trials who decide whether a person is guilty or not guilty of the crime they’re accused of. In England and Wales, a jury consists of 12 people.

The jury deliberated for one hour and found the defendant not guilty.


Lawyer

Someone who practices law. It used to describe barristers and solicitors in the UK.

My firm has six lawyers, including three contract lawyers, a criminal lawyer and a couple of civil law lawyers. 


Magistrates Court

The Court of First Instance in the United Kingdom for criminal cases. There are typically three magistrates who volunteer their time to hear cases.  

The case was first heard at the Magistrates Court.


Plea

The defendant either pleads “guilty” or “not guilty” for a crime they’re accused of.

He didn’t steal anything, so he will plead not guilty.


Prosecutor

The lawyer for the state who is trying to prove that the accused committed the crime.

Be prepared. The prosecutor will ask you many questions.


Sue

To start legal proceedings against someone in order to receive compensation for damages.

After he was injured, he decided to sue his boss over the unsafe work environment.


Verdict

The final decision in the courtroom as to whether or not the defendant is guilty or not guility.

The jury foreman read the final verdict: guilty


Warrant

An official document from the court instructing the police to do something.

You may also often hear the term “search warrant,” which gives the police permission to search someone’s property for evidence.

There’s a warrant out for his arrest.


Witness

A person who saw the crime occurring and who must describe what they saw or heard to the police and any other interested parties.

There were several witnesses to the theft.


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