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Glossary


Bail
Cash or surety posted to procure the release of a defendant by insuring his/her future attendance court, and compelling him/her to remain in the jurisdiction of the court.
Bail Bond
An obligation signed by the accused to secure his/her presence at the trial. This obligation means that the accused may lose money by not properly appearing for the trial. Often referred to simply as bond.
Bailiff
A court attendant who keeps order in the courtroom and has custody of the jury.
Bankruptcy
Refers to statutes and judicial proceedings involving persons or businesses that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court in getting a fresh start. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may be released from or “discharged” from their debts, perhaps by paying a portion of each debt. Bankruptcy judges preside over these proceedings. The person with the debts is called the debtor and the people or companies to whom the debtor owes money are called creditors.
Bar
1. Historically, the partition separating the general public from the space occupied by the judges, lawyers, and other participants in a trial. 2. More commonly, the term means the whole body of lawyers.
Bar Examination
A state examination taken by prospective lawyers in order to be admitted and licensed to practice law.
Battery
A beating, or wrongful physical violence. The actual threat to use force is an assault; the use of it is a battery, which usually includes an assault.
Bench
The seat occupied by the judge. More broadly, the court itself.
Bench Trial
Trial without a jury in which a judge decides the facts.
Bench warrant
Warrant of arrest ordered and signed by a judge (statewide warrant).
Beneficiary
Someone named to receive property or benefits in a will. In a trust, a person who is to receive benefits from the trust.
Bequeath
To give a gift to someone through a will.
Bequests
Gifts made in a will.
Best evidence
Primary evidence; the best evidence available. Evidence short of this is “secondary.” That is, an original letter is “best evidence,” and a photocopy is “secondary evidence.”
Beyond a reasonable doubt
The standard in a criminal case requiring that the jury be satisfied to a moral certainty that every element of a crime has been proven by the prosecution. This standard of proof does not require that the state establish absolute certainty by eliminating all doubt, but it does require that the evidence be so conclusive that all reasonable doubts are removed from the mind or the ordinary person.
Bill of particulars
A statement of the details of the charge made against the defendant.
Bind over
To hold a person for trial on bond (bail) or in jail. If the judicial official conducting a hearing finds probable cause to believe the accused committed a crime, the official will bind over the accused, normally by setting bail for the accused’s appearance at trial.
Bond (supersedeas)
The bond set by the court during the appeal procedure and posted with the Clerk of Court.
Bond (surety)
A certificate posted by a bonding company to the sheriff for release of the defendant.
Bond amounts
Cash or surety to be posted for release on bail.
Booking
The process of photographing, fingerprinting and recording identifying data of a suspect. This process follows the arrest.
Brief
A written statement prepared by one side in a lawsuit to explain to the court its view of the facts of a case and the applicable law.
Burden of Proof
In the law of evidence, the necessity or duty of affirmatively providing a fact or facts in dispute on an issue raised between the parties in a lawsuit. The responsibility of proving a point or points; standard of proof indicades the degree to which the point must be proven. For example, in a ciril case the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, who must establish his/her case by such standards of proof as a preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing evidence.