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Explaining common legal terms




A written, sworn statement that sets out a person’s evidence in court.


Alcohol Ignition Lock - a device fixed to a motor vehicle. Find out more about AIL


An application to a higher court to review the decision of a lower court on the grounds that it was in some way flawed. Find out more about appeals.


Being taken into custody by a legal authority.


Being released from legal custody if you are charged with an offence on the condition that you obey certain conditions and return to court at a specified time. Find out more about getting bail.


A lawyer who has more specialised knowledge of the law, and who provides opinions to solicitors and appears in court.

Default judgment

A court’s decision against a defendant when they don’t defend their case in court. 


This is the person legal action is brought against. This legal action could be from police, an individual or another authority. 

Defence lawyers

In the Local Court, a lawyer who speaks on behalf of the defendant.

Expert witness

A witness who has specialised knowledge, whose opinion may help a court reach a decision. For example, a doctor, scientist, pathologist.


A sum of money an offender must pay to the government as a punishment for breaking the law. Find out how to pay your fine.

Good Behaviour Bond

When a court orders a person to be of good behaviour for a certain period of time, they must not break the law for that period of time. 


A court order requiring a person to do something, or stop doing something.   


The person who controls the courtroom, interprets the law, and gives the final decision.  A judge decides if a person is guilty when there is no jury. They will always decide what punishment a person should receive if they are guilty.


The final order of the court which says who is successful in a court action. Judgment can be in favour of the plaintiff or the defendant.

Judgment creditor

A person who the court decides is owed money by another person, known as the judgment debtor.

Judgment debt

The amount of money the court orders one person to pay another.

Judgment debtor

A person who the court decides owes money to another person, known as the judgment creditor.


Another name for a court case.


The name a person is called when they have been found guilty of breaking the law.


The release of a prisoner back into the community under supervision and conditions. Find out more about parole.


A person or organisation that starts legal action against another person or organisation in court.  


A statement made by someone in court who is accused of a crime to say whether they are guilty or innocent.


When information and conversations with a lawyer remain private and cannot be revealed in court without that person’s permission.


Court orders involving supervision of an offender in the community. Find out more information about probation.


Being held in custody while your matter is finalised by the Court. A person is on remand if they have not made a bail application or have had bail refused. See also: Bail.


The punishment a judge gives a person who is found guilty of a crime. Find out more about court cases, orders and sentencing.


A person qualified in law who gives legal advice, prepares cases and who may represent people in court. 


A notice telling a person they must appear before a court or produce something specific to a registry for a court case.  Another phrase used is a Summons to Produce or Summons to Witness to come to court to give evidence.


A notice telling a person they must appear before a court.

Suspended sentence

When the court decides to punish an offender by giving them a term of imprisonment that court can decide if the offender has to spend that entire time in prison. A suspended sentence is when part of the sentence can be served outside of prison so long as the offender doesn't breach the law or specific rules they may be given, such as not drinking alcohol for a period of time.


A statutory body responsible for disputes and hearings of appeals in particular areas of government. 


People who are called to give evidence in court. They will be asked questions by both the prosecutor and the defence lawyer in the case of criminal proceedings and by the plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyer in the case of a civil court case. Read more about going to court as a witness.