I had an idea of this glossary we could create in which we name and explain different criminal/legal terms for people to use them when creating their trials.
Blunt Force Trauma: A wound that is caused by blunt (not sharp) object which can lead to severe damage of internal organs and possibly blood loss. Requires significant force to kill instantly, may alternatively cause unconsciousness or brain damage. Can cause near instant death, especially if head is damaged, but death due to crushed ribs, etc is not unheard of.
Sharp Force Trauma/Puncture Wound: Also known as "stabbing." A type of wound that is caused when a sharp object (like a knife) that penetrates through soft tissue and, if deep enough, internal organs causing blood loss. Can be lethal. Most commonly occurs in the torso. Generally results in slow death through internal bleeding, but proper placement (i.e. heart, large artery) and enough force can result in near instant death.
Fingerprint Powder: A tool that is used to reveal invisible latent fingerprints in surfaces (such as the grip of a knife), which can then be collected via tape and stored for evidence. One simply sprinkles on powder and brushes away the extra, with some powder sticking to the oils in the print. In addition to fingerprints, it can pick up toe prints, palm prints and anything else caused by skin oils. The most basic tool in forensic science, it comes in many different types. Aluminum powders are among the most common.
Luminol: a chemical substance used to spot blood. When the luminol comes in contact with blood or other bodily fluids and exposed to a black light, it will glow blue. Because luminol reacts to proteins, it cannot definitively prove whether a stain is blood or not, but it can detect such stains even if they are wiped away and invisible to the naked eye.
Murder: A crime that consists of one person killing another in an illegal manner. This is the most recurrent (if not THE) crime in the AA world. A capital crime (punishable by death), murder is often punished with long prison sentences, especially if paired up with another crime (kidnapping, arson, another murder...). Murder should not be confused with homicide, which is simply the killing of another human being, including accidental killings, manslaughter, justified self-defense, etc. In the United States, murder may be first, second or third degree. First degree is the worst, and is often a cold-blooded, premeditated affair. Most AA murders are first-degree, as there is some amount of planning in advanced. Standard punishments for first-degree murder are death or 25 years to life, often without parole. Third-degree murder often overlaps with manslaughter.
Manslaughter: A crime which is a sub-degree of homicide in which one person kills another in a way which, while illegal, does not constitute murder. Such circumstances include (sometimes) crimes of passion, justified rage (both of which would be voluntary manslaughter), instances where a death occurred due to a non-violent crime and criminal negligence. Manslaughter is divided into two categories: Voluntary and involuntary. Punishments for voluntary manslaughter are often 3-6 years in prison, while involuntary may only result in fines and probation.
Justified self-defense: A plea in which the defendant claims to have committed the aggression in order to protect his/her life or that of another. This plea significantly decreases the amount of time in jail, compared to being convicted with a not guilty plea. Pure self-defense is considered 'justifiable homicide' and carries no penalty. Other instances may result in the lesser crime of manslaughter. In some states, merely protecting one's property (such as by shooting a burglar) will count as self-defense.
Larceny/Thievery: A crime consisting of taking another person's property without the victim's permission. Also known as 'stealing'. One of the lesser felonies, larceny is usually punished with less than ten years in prison. However, as many thieves commit more than one crime, their sentences may still be large. Grand larceny is a felony, and requires the stolen property to be worth more than $250. Lesser larcenies are misdemeanors. Someone with the uncontrollable urge to steal things is known as a kleptomaniac.
Blackmail: A crime of coercion. A person (known as the blackmailer) attempts to force someone into doing something by threatening him/her into revealing a secret of the victim, which may lead to personal embarrassment, criminal prosecution or physical harm. Blackmail for money falls under extortion. In fiction, many a murder victim has in fact been killed by a person they were blackmailing.
Double Jeopardy: A legal term for a defendant being charged twice for the same crime. Double jeopardy is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, and is banned by normal law in most other countries. In practice, this means that once a defendant has been acquitted for a crime, he/she cannot be tried again for the same crime in any court. Thus, if a defendant is found "Not Guilty", he/she cannot be tried again, even if new evidence is found. They can still be tried for other crimes, including lying to police, if necessary, or be charged in a civil suit (read: lawsuit). This does not apply to "Guilty" verdicts, which can (and are) appealed and may be overturned at any time. In short, the defense gets many tries to disprove the prosecution's case, but the prosecutor only gets one.
"Pleading the Fifth": A right that is given to a person, allowing him/her to refuse to testify if they believe it will incriminate them. This cannot be taken as a sign of guilt. Said right is the infamous "right to remain silent" and is protected by the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, although the term has appeared in other countries as well. Under no circumstances may a defendant be forced to testify, however in AA world a witness may be ordered to testify about subjects which do not incriminate them, under the penalty of "contempt of court".
Modus Operandi: Latin for "Method of Operation." The specific method of operation of a criminal. Repetitive criminals often have a signature style in how they commit crimes, such as always breaking into a house by opening a window with a crowbar. Determining a person's M.O. can connect them to otherwise separate crimes.
Corpus Delicti: Latin for "The body of the crime" requires that a crime must be proven to have been committed before a person may be convicted of that crime.