Guide: Louisiana Criminal Law Terms
Accessory after the fact – a person who aids or hides another person whom he believes to have committed a felony offense when the accessory intends that the offender escape prosecution.
Accomplice – a person who knowingly consents and engages in criminal conduct with another.
Acquittal – dismissal of the charge by the judge or a not guilty verdict by the jury.
Adult Age – 17 years old in Louisiana.
Alibi – an affirmative defense that the defendant was at another place during the commission of the crime.
Arraignment – criminal proceeding in which the defendant is informed of the charges against him and is asked to enter a plea.
Attempt – when a person, who has specific intent to commit a crime, does or omits an act for the purpose of accomplishing the crime. Does not matter whether or not he would have actually been able to commit the crime.
Bond – in amount of money determined by the court which must be posted to ensure that the defendant will appear in court.
Bail bondsman – an agency that may be hired to post a bond with the court in exchange for a fee by the surety.
Bond forfeiture – on the court keeps the bond that was posted because the defendant failed to appear in court.
Bench warrant – warrant issued by a judge when the defendant fails to appear at court.
Beyond a reasonable doubt – the standard of proof required by the state to prove the defendant’s guilt.
Bill of information – the formal charge filed by the District Attorney.
Bill of Particulars – statement of details filed by the state in response to defendant’s motion regarding the charge.
Booking – the process at the jail after arrest whereby identifying information is obtained by the arrestee.
Capital offense – the charge whereby the defendant could be sentenced to death.
Conspiracy – agreement or combination of 2 more offenders with a goal of committing a crime when one or more of the offenders does an act in furtherance.
Conviction – when the defendant is found guilty of committing a crime after he enters a guilty plea or is found guilty by a jury or judge.
Constitutional rights – the right to an attorney, right to a trial, right to cross-examine witnesses, right to subpoena witnesses, privilege against self-incrimination.
Crime – conduct that is defined as criminal in the Louisiana laws.
Dangerous weapon – includes any gas, liquid or other substance or instrumentality, which, in the manner used by the offender, could produce death or great bodily harm.
Expungement – process of removing an arrest or conviction from public record.
Extradition – when one state surrenders an accused that is in custody to another other state.
Felony – any crime for which offender may be sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor.
Foreseeable – that which would be ordinarily anticipated by human being of average reasonable intelligence and perception.
General criminal intent – is present whenever there is specific intent as well as when the offender, in the ordinary course of human experience, reasonably knew that the criminal consequences would follow due to his act or failure to act.
Guilty plea – when a defendant admits guilt in open court, usually under oath.
Incarceration – imprisonment in the parish jail or state prison.
Indictment – the formal charge issued by a grand jury after proceeding has been held to determine whether or not the grand jury believes there is enough evidence to justify a trial.
Initial appearance – when the defendant goes before a judge shortly after her arrest for probable cause determination.
Insanity – what circumstances indicate that because of a mental disorder, the offender was incapable of telling that mean right and wrong with reference to the illegal conduct.
Justification – when the offender’s conduct is otherwise illegal, the law provides for certain exceptions that it deems are justified.
Misdemeanor – a crime other than a felony.
Nolo Contendere – a plea of no contest, which has the same effect as a plea of guilty, but is not considered as an admission of guilt outside of the criminal court.
Parole – the release of an inmate after serving time for conviction.
Principal – all persons involved in the commission of a crime.
Probation – when the court supervises or monitors a defendant for a specified period of time as opposed to placing the defendant in jail.
Revocation – when the court revokes the proration of an offender due to the offender failing to complete conditions of probation or commits another crime. Also applicable to parole.
Sentence – the punishment ordered by the court following the defendant’s conviction, which may be agreed upon between the parties or determined solely by the judge.
Specific intent – the state of mind that exists when the circumstances indicate that the offender actively desired the prescribed criminal consequences to follow his act or failure to act.
Warrant – an order authorized by the judge allowing law enforcement officers to conduct a search or make an arrest pursuant to the probable cause stated in the affidavit, which is presented to the judge prior to his signing of the warrant.