Criminal Definitions in Florida

Pardon – The act of officially stopping punishment or other legal consequences of a crime. The pardon is issued by Governor Charlie Christ in Florida.

Petition – In Juvenile criminal cases in Jacksonville, a petition is filed as the charging document. It lets the child and the criminal defense lawyer know the specific crimes the child is being charged with.

Plea Bargain – An agreement between a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer and the prosecutor to resolve a case on behalf of the client. An agreement can only be reached with the permission of the person charged with the crime.

Pleading the Fifth – Asserting your right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Polygraph – A machine that evaluates truthfulness by recording involuntary physical changes in the body. It’s results are not admissible in a criminal trial, but if a person facing criminal charges “passes” the test, they can be presented to the prosecutor to try to persuade them to drop criminal charges.

Possession of Drugs or Guns – Many times in criminal charges of possession of drugs or possession of a firearm, the type of possession is critical. Actual possession means the police found the item on your person. Constructive possession means that the item was in your control, but not literally on you.

Precedent – A decided criminal case that is the basis for determining later cases involving similar facts or issues.

Presentence Investigation Report (PSI) – If you plea straight up to the judge in a criminal case, it is out of your hands what happens to you. The judge has to make a decision about your sentence and the presentence investigation report helps him or her with that decision. The Florida Department of Corrections looks into your educational, familial , criminal, and social background and presents a picture of who you are to the judge.

Presumption of Innocence – If you are arrested for criminal charges, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a fundamental criminal law principle that makes the government prove you guilty of what they are charging you with. The burden is on the prosecution, not you.

Prior Inconsistent Statement – A witness’s earlier statement that conflicts with their testimony in a criminal trial. The Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer can introduce the prior statement to point out to the jury that the witness is saying something different this time than before. It goes to their credibility as a witness.

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