Cabinet Secretary for Justice
This is the person in the Scottish Government with overall responsibility for law and order, also commonly referred to as the Justice Secretary.
This is law that comes into being through decisions made by judges in previous cases, rather than law that is passed by Parliament.
Caution (pronounced Kayshun)
Caution is pronounced to rhyme with station. Convicted offenders can be ordered to hand over a sum of money held by the court as security for good behaviour. If the offender doesn’t get into trouble for a set time, the money will be returned. Caution can also be used in civil cases where a person must lodge money to cover a possible cost in the future, for example the expenses of the case if it is lost.
The charge is the crime that the accused person is thought to have committed.
These are cases between people or organisations rather than a criminal prosecution by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Examples of civil cases are personal injury cases and family cases.
Community Payback Order (CPO)
This is an Order that is community based. It is given as an alternative to a custodial (prison or detention) sentence. It can be made-up of one or more parts. There is a wide range of requirements which can be part of this Order. These include:
- up to 300 hours unpaid work for the community
- supervision - working with a social worker to change offending behaviour
- paying compensation (money) to the victim of the crime
- attending programmes – such as those dealing with domestic abuse or sexual offences
- receiving treatments – such as mental health, drug or alcohol
See our CPO webpage for further details.
Offenders convicted of an offence involving a victim can be ordered to pay money to that victim. The victim can be a person who has been injured, had property damaged or been distressed as a result of the crime. The offender pays the money to the Court which gives it to the victim.
A complainer is the alleged victim named in a charge.
This is a court document that sets out the charges against the accused in less serious cases. These cases are called summary cases and are heard before a justice of the peace or a sheriff without a jury. More serious (solemn) charges are brought on indictment.
When a person is convicted of more than one offence, the court can order that each sentence is to run at the same time, rather than one after the other. This is called concurrent sentences.
A conditional discharge is where the offender is given no punishment as long as they do not commit another crime within a set amount of time.
Where a person is convicted of more than one offence, the court can order each sentence to run one after the other. These are called consecutive sentences. There are rules in place about when this can happen - it is not possible in all cases.
This is when a person is found guilty in court of a crime.
When a person has pled guilty, or been found guilty, of a crime in the past, it is called a conviction.
Counsel are advocates who act for the prosecution and the defence in more serious cases.
Court of Session
This is Scotland's highest civil court dealing with the most serious cases. Examples of civil cases are business cases and family cases.
The courts in Scotland are made up of the supreme courts, the sheriff courts, and the justice of the peace courts. The supreme courts are the High Court of Justiciary (for criminal cases) and the Court of Session (for civil cases).
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
This authority deals with claims for compensation (money) from people who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the victim of a violent crime.
Criminal Justice Social Work Scotland
CJSWS acts on behalf of the Scottish courts to: supervise offenders aged 16 and over who have been given a community based sentence; to provide background reports to the courts about offenders to assist the judge with deciding on a sentence; and to provide supervision for certain offenders released from prison.
This is a list of a person’s criminal convictions and is held on the Criminal History System which is owned by the Scottish Police Authority.
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
The COPFS is the justice organisation responsible for the prosecution of crime in Scotland. It also investigates sudden or suspicious deaths, and complaints against the police. Prosecutors in Scotland are called procurators fiscal.
This is the level of responsibility or blame for committing a crime. For example, a person who plans a crime in advance will normally be considered to be more culpable than someone who commits it on the spur of the moment.
This is where an offender is responsible for causing the death of another person, but has not committed murder. For example, because they didn't intend to kill the person.
This is an overall sentence that is given for offences that arise as a 'course of conduct' (at least 2 similar incidents) or where multiple offences arise from the same incident. Where this is done, no part of the overall sentence is for any of the individual offences.
This is a sentence of imprisonment. Adults are sent to prison and youths aged 16 to 21 are sent to a young offender’s institution.
A person is in custody when they are kept in prison, a young offenders' institution, or a police cell.