Criminal Defense Glossary of Terms
The threat or use of force on another that causes that person to have a reasonable apprehension of
imminent harmful or offensive contact. It is an attempt to commit battery, requiring the specific intent
to cause harm.
The nonconsensual touching of, or use of force against, the body of another with the intent to cause
harmful or offensive contact.
A writ issued directly by a judge to a law-enforcement office; esp. for the arrest of a person who has
been held in contempt, has been indicted, has disobeyed a subpoena, or ha failed to appear for a
The common-offense of breaking and entering any building or dwelling during the date or night—with
the intent to commit a felony.
An agreement by two or more persons to commit an unlawful act, coupled with an intent to achieve the
agreement’s objective, and (in most states) action or conduct that furthers the agreement; a combination
for an unlawful purpose.
A crime involving the use of a computer, such as sabotaging or stealing electronically stored data.–Also
known as computer crime.
Behavior that tends to disturb the public peace, offend public moral, or undermine public safety.
A diminished ability to act with full mental and physical capability because of alcohol or drug
consumption in public that cause a disturbance which offends public moral or undermine public
Violence between members of a household, usually spouses; and assault or other violent act committed
by one member of a household against another.
Driving with a suspended license:
Understanding the difference, between a suspended license and a revoked license, can be important when
you find yourself in trouble with different types of traffic violations. The more severe your violation, the
more severe the penalties can be. A suspended license is not the same as license revocation. A simple key
point to differentiate the two is a suspended license is bad and a revoked license is very bad.
Suspended Driver’s License:
A suspended driver’s license means your license is temporarily out of service. You cannot legally drive with
a suspended license. A suspended license can be easily be reinstated once you have paid your fines and
endured the suspension time period given to you. Licenses can be suspended for several different reasons and
it can vary per state.
Drug crime is the umbrella term used to describe different offenses involving controlled substances. Each state
and the federal government have enacted laws against unlawful possession, use, distribution, or production of
certain drugs. These include cocaine, heroin, marijuana and amphetamines.
Driving under the influence:
The offense of operating a motor vehicle, in a physically or mentally impaired condition, especially after
Abuse of a senior citizen generally someone at least 60-65 years old, especially by a caregiver or relative.
This includes deprivation of food or medication, beatings oral assaults and isolation.
A criminal offense under a federal statue. It is also termed as federal offense.
A serious crime usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death. Some examples
include burglary, arson, rape and murder. It is also termed major crime or serious crime.
A crime that is less serious than a felony and Is usually punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture or confinement
(usually for a brief term) in a place other than prison (such as a jail).
Fraud committed against an insurer, in a judicial proceeding. Some examples are the use of fabricated
evidence, perjured testimony and false receipts or other commercial documents.
Serious antisocial behavior by a minor, such as vandalism, theft, or joyriding; especially, behavior that
would be criminally punishable if the person were an adult, but instead is usually punished by special
laws applying to minors.
Leaving the scene of a crime:
Any driver who fails to fulfill their duties, after being involved in an accident, can receive a traffic ticket,
at a minimum. In some cases, especially when an accident causes injury or death, a driver who leaves
the scene of an accident can be subjectto serious criminal charges such as “felony hit and run.”
An act of fraud using the U. S. Postal Service, as in making false representations through the mail to
obtain an economic advantage.
The unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought. –Also termed (in some jurisdiction)
culpable homicide. The main line of division is between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, the
first occurring where there is an intention to do some illegal harm to a person, the second where there is
no such intention.
The crime in which the intent is to materially misrepresent or omit information on a mortgage loan application
to obtain a loan or to obtain a larger loan than would have not been obtained had the lender or borrower known
The killing of a human being with malice aforethought.
A probationer’s breaching a condition of the sentence, usually including the noncompliance with a probation
Resisting arrest without violence:
The crime of obstructing or opposing a police officer without violence, who is making an arrest.
Resisting arrest with violence:
The crime of obstructing or opposing a police officer with violence, who is making an arrest.
Sealing of record:
The act of practice of officially preventing access to particular (especially juvenile-criminal) records, in the
absence of a court order.
Expungement of record:
The removal of a conviction (especially for a first offense) from a person’s criminal record.
The wrongful taking and removing of another’s personal proper with the intent of driving the true owner of it;
larceny, burglary, embezzlement and false pretenses.
Weapons charges include offenses that address the possession or use of weapons. Even though many people
envision a defendant actually pulling a gun on a store clerk, weapons charges are broadly used and applied to
prohibit the possession of certain weapons by any person or certain persons and to increase the range of
punishment for the use of weapons during other offenses.
White Collar Crimes:
A nonviolent crime usually involving cheating or dishonesty in commercial matters. Examples include fraud,
embezzlement, bribery and insider trading.
*Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed.). (2014). St. Paul, MN: Thomson Reuters.