- Do cases always have a
- No. Although the defendant has a
right to a trial, most cases are resolved through plea
- If I am called as a
witness to testify, what do I say?
- Tell the truth. You should always
contact the prosecutor or victim assistance staff before the
trial starts if you have any questions.
- Why are charges dropped?
- Charges may be dropped before the
indictment or information because they may have been initially
inappropriate, or some charges are so similar it is not
appropriate to proceed on all of them. Charges may be dropped
after indictment or information because there are problems with
evidence, witness availability, valid defenses, credibility, or
- Why are charges
reduced/plea agreements made?
- Charges are reduced/plea
agreements made when:
- The penalty and possible
sentencing conditions are similar to what the defendant
would get for the original charges: or the prosecutor
believes there may not be enough evidence to get a
conviction on the original charges. Plea agreements remove
all of the risk that is part of a jury trial. It is a sure
thing. When the defendant enters a guilty plea, there is no
Admissible Evidence: allowing
certain statements or objects to be used to support the
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Is the
certainty necessary for a juror to legally find a criminal
Continuance: a postponement of a
hearing to a later date granted by the court.
Conviction: finding a defendant
guilty of a charge at trial or plea agreement, a finding of
guilty but mentally ill, or a no contest plea.
Cross Examination: questions an
attorney asks the other side's witness.
Defendant: a person charged with a
Direct Examination: questions that
a lawyer asks his/her own witness.
Excluded Evidence: statements or
objects not permitted to be used to support one side's case.
Felony: the most serious type of
criminal offense; punishable by more than two years in
prison, however, the prison term can be suspended in some
cases. Example of felony charges are: burglary, murder,
robbery, and unlawful sexual intercourse.
Hearsay: evidence based on what
the witness has heard from other people rather than
personally experienced; this is usually not admissible.
Misdemeanor: an offense which can
result in up to two years incarceration. Example of
misdemeanor charges are: theft, offensive touching.
Mistrial: a trial declared invalid
because of a mistake in the proceedings. The prosecutor
decides whether to re-try the case.
Objection: Statement by an
attorney opposing particular testimony, conduct or evidence
during the trial.
Overruled: court's denial of a
motion or objection.
Plea Agreement: agreement between
the prosecutor and the defendant, where the defendant agrees
to plead guilty, usually to a reduced charge and gives up
his or her right to a trial.
Prosecutor: A lawyer that
represents the State of Delaware on behalf of the public. In
Delaware, known as a Deputy Attorney General.
Restitution: an amount the court
orders a convicted defendant to pay to the victim for losses
or damages as a result of the crime.
Subpoena: an order from the Court
to appear at a judicial hearing.