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Legal Jargon: Common Courtroom Terms You Should Know

Legal Jargon Common Courtroom Terms You Should Know

The drama of a courtroom can be just as riveting in real life as it is on TV shows. The statements said and the events that occurred provide a glimpse into some of the most foundational—yet complicated—aspects of humanity. Determining right versus wrong and victim versus criminal show us the evolution of humanity, morality, and law.

Whether you have a court case coming up, or you’re just fascinated with the world of law, you’re probably curious about all the different jargon thrown around the courtroom. To keep you informed before you head in, we list some of the common courtroom terms, below.

Legal Trial Terms


An acquittal is when a judge or jury determines the criminal defendant is not guilty, or that there is insufficient evidence to support a guilty conviction.


This is a written or printed statement created under oath.

Alford Plea

This is something a defendant enters; they do not admit guilt, but instead state that sufficient evidence exists which could result in a conviction.


We talked about this term in our blog about the different levels of state court; an appeal is when a defendant is found guilty and requests that a higher court review the decision to determine if the outcome was correct or not.

Assault v. Battery

A lot of people tend to use these terms interchangeably; however, they’re quite different. Assault is a lesser charge that refers to any act which causes another person or party to fear they’ll suffer physical harm. Battery, on the other hand, requires the aggressor to actually strike or offensively touch the victim.

Bench Trial v. Jury Trial

A bench trial is a trial where the judge fulfills the role of the jury. A jury trial is where the outcome is decided upon by the jury.

Case Law

Case law refers to the law established in previous court decisions; it’s a way to cite the legal precedent.

Consecutive v. Concurrent

These terms refer to a guilty person’s sentencing when it comes to prison. Consecutive means the prison terms will be served one after another, while concurrent means they can be served at the same time.

Hung Jury

This term is when the jury is unable to reach a verdict, and if that happens, the case will see a retrial with new jury members.

Manslaughter v. Murder

The difference between these two things has to do with the killer’s state of mind. Manslaughter is when the defendant didn’t intend to kill but was grossly negligent. Murder involves the intent to kill or cause bodily harm.


This is a criminal offense and happens when someone on the stand makes a false statement under oath specifically about a matter necessary to the proceeding.


Quite simply, a recess is a short break in a trial that’s been ordered by a judge.

If you’ve been charged with a crime and need to go to court, contact Jared Justice, a criminal defense attorney in Clackamas County. Not only will he answer your questions about legal jargon, but he’ll also give you the best support possible to help win your case.

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