For the average person, legal language can be incredibly confusing. Before you find yourself wrapped up in a courtroom, it is a good idea to get a basic understanding of the “legalese” you might hear in court. Today, we are going to define 10 terms that you are likely to hear during a legal proceeding. If you or a loved one has been arrested in Harris County and need help getting out of jail, ABC Bail Bonds can get you what you need. We are the oldest bail bond agents in Houston, and we know the system better than anyone.

1. Arraignment

An arraignment is the legal proceeding where the defendant is read their charges and makes the plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

2. Bail

Prior to their actual trial, a defendant can be released on “bail” or “bond” under certain conditions and the promise that the defendant will present themselves in court once called upon for trial.

3. Miranda Rights

The Miranda rights are rights that an arresting officer is expected to relay to an arrestee in order for their questioning to be admissible as evidence in a courtroom. The rights include the right to remain silent, the right to consult a lawyer during questioning and the right to stop speaking with police at any point. It also verifies to the arrestee that their words can be held against them and that they will be offered a court-appointed lawyer if they cannot afford to hire a private one.

4. Indictment

Used primarily in felony cases, an indictment is the formal charge by a grand jury against a defendant signifying that there are grounds for a full trial.

5. Public Defender

Also known as a court-appointed lawyer, a public defender is a lawyer who works under the courts on behalf of defendants who do not have a private lawyer.

6. Acquittal

An acquittal is the ruling that there was not sufficient evidence presented during trial to find a defendant guilty of their charges.

7. Misdemeanor

Misdemeanors are crimes that are not considered severe and usually result in punishments such as fines or less than one year of imprisonment.

8. Felony

More serious than a misdemeanor, felonies are severe crimes that are punished with several years of imprisonment or sometimes a death sentence.

9. Plea

Essentially, a plea is how the defendant decides to claim responsibility for the charges against them during their arraignment.

10. Bond Forfeiture

If the person released on bail fails to appear in court when called upon, a bond forfeiture occurs. This requires the person who paid for the bond to pay the full amount, and they cannot receive a refund. The release of a defendant can also be revoked, so they are expected to return to jail.

ABC Bail Bonds: Making Sense of Houston’s Jail System

It is truly better to be safe than sorry, which is why it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with legal language. You never know when you might be in a courtroom. If you get arrested in Houston, ABC Bail Bonds can help to ensure your quick release so you can return to your family while awaiting trial. We are professional and understanding of everyone’s case, no matter the charge. Call ABC at (713) 222-6222 or visit our website to get in touch with a bond agent 24/7.