When a person is guilty of a charge, the judge can decide to 'discharge' them (unless the sentence for the offence is fixed by law). This means that no punishment is given. In solemn (more serious) cases, a conviction is recorded. In summary (less serious) cases, no conviction is recorded, however, for some purposes (for example if the person is convicted of another crime in the future), it may be regarded as a previous conviction. An absolute discharge is only given in exceptional circumstances. Reasons for an absolute discharge can include, for example, that the crime is very minor, that the offender has been previously of good character, or that the offender is very young or old.
The accused is a person or group of people charged with (accused of) criminal offences by a prosecutor.
An acquittal is when an accused person is found not guilty of an offence or when the case against an accused is found not proven. Both result in the accused being cleared of the offence.
An admonition is where an accused person found guilty of a crime is warned not to offend again. It is recorded as a conviction and appears on their criminal record. No other penalty is given.
An advocate is a lawyer who can defend accused people in all Scottish courts cases, but they are more often seen at the High Court. Advocates are also known as counsel.
An advocate depute is an experienced prosecutor who appears in the High Court where the more serious cases are heard.
The Advocate General is a UK Government minister and the UK Government's chief legal adviser on Scots law.
Age of criminal prosecution
This is the age children can be prosecuted. In Scotland it is 12. Children under the age of 16 are normally dealt with by the Children’s Reporter and Children’s Hearing System. Where an offence is serious, a child over 12 can be dealt with in court.
Age of criminal responsibility
The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland was raised from 8 to 12 years old in November 2019. This means children under the age of 12 cannot be arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offence.
An aggravation is something that makes a charge more serious and is likely to make the the sentence more severe. For example, racial abuse can be a racial aggravation in a charge such as assault. What counts as an aggravation is often set out in an Act of Parliament.
These are crimes that an offender has committed in the past which are similar to the one they are currently being sentenced for.
Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)
An ASBO prohibits an offender from doing anything listed in the Order. It is intended to stop antisocial behaviour that causes other people alarm or distress. For example anti-social behaviour could be playing loud music on a regular basis, or continually drinking in the street and becoming rowdy. A judge can issue an ASBO instead of, or in addition to, any other sentence.
An appeal is when accused people who have been convicted of a crime and given a sentence, go back to court to challenge the conviction, the sentence, or both.
Appeal sheriffs are judges who sit in the Sheriff Appeal Court. All sheriffs principal are appeal sheriffs. The Lord President can appoint other sheriffs to become appeal sheriffs as well. For more information on sheriff principals see the Judicial Office for Scotland website.
This Order enables a judge to send a convicted offender, who is believed to have a mental disorder based on evidence from a medical doctor, to a psychiatric hospital for assessment and treatment.
Automatic Early Release
This is a system where people serving sentences of imprisonment are released into the community after serving part of their sentence in custody. Short term prisoners (those serving less than four years) must serve one half of their sentence before being released. Long term prisoners must be released 'on licence' six months before the end of their sentence (unless they have previously been released in respect of that sentence). Automatic early release does not apply to those serving extended sentences. Being released 'on licence' means the person will be under the supervision of a social worker in the community. There are conditions they must follow such as staying at a certain address, staying in touch with their social worker and staying out of trouble with the police. If they do not follow the conditions, they can go back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence. The licence will last until the sentence is finished.
A judge can order a sentence to begin on an earlier date than the date the sentence is given. This is called a backdated sentence and is normally done to take account of time the offender has already spent in custody (in prison or a young offenders' institution) during the case.
While accused are waiting for proceedings to be heard in court, they can either be held in custody (in prison, a young offenders' institution or police cell) or released on bail. ‘Released on bail’ means that they are free to leave the court but only under certain conditions. These conditions will include not committing any further offences. If they do commit another offence while on bail this will be added to the charge as a bail 'aggravation' and can add up to six months on to the sentence.
Beyond reasonable doubt
Beyond reasonable doubt is the standard of proof in criminal cases. All the relevant facts in a criminal trial need to be proved beyond this point for an accused to be found guilty.
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.
This is when the final decision about a sentence is postponed to another date for the offender to be of good behaviour during that time. The sentence is usually postponed for between 3 to 12 months. Other conditions can sometimes be added, such as attending counselling or repaying money. The sentence will depend on how the offender has behaved. If the offender has stayed out of trouble, then the sentence will normally be lower than if they get into trouble.
Detention is when youths aged 16 to 21 are sent to a young offenders’ institution, rather than prison.
This is a custodial sentence where the judge sets the fixed length of time the offender will spend in prison, or in a young offenders' institution, before being released into the community. However, the offender will not necessarily spend the whole of this time in prison (see Automatic Early Release).
The diet is the date fixed by the court for hearing a particular stage of a case. For instance a ‘pleading diet’ is when accused are asked to state whether they plead guilty or not guilty.
A disposal is the sentence or outcome of a criminal case.
Drug Treatment and Testing Orders
These orders are designed to assist offenders to reduce their drug use and related offending.
People released from prison into the community during their sentence can be fitted with an electronic tag to let police know where they are. They must usually stay at an agreed address for about 12 hours every night. Other conditions can be set for each person depending on their offence. Any offender who breaks the curfew can be taken back to prison. Certain violent or sexual offenders are not eligible for tagging. For more information see 'Home Detention Curfew' on our prison sentences page.
Evidence includes what a witness says to the court from the witness box as well as documents, photographs or clothes that are relevant to the case.
The purpose of an extended sentence is to protect the public. It combines a period in prison or detention (the custodial term) with a further set time of supervision in the community (the extension period). The extension period of the sentence in the community can be up to five years for sheriff court cases and up to 10 years for High Court cases. An extended sentence can be used for offenders who have committed a sexual or violent crime; or abduction when prosecuted on indictment (this is at a more serious level). For a violent crime or abduction, the custodial term of the sentence must be four years or more. Offenders who commit an offence while under supervision can be returned to prison.
Faculty of Advocates
This is the professional body to which all advocates belong.
A fine is a penalty where money must be paid to the court. The amount is set by the judge. Organisations can also be fined for offences including health and safety breaches.
This is a date for a case calling in the sheriff court in solemn (more serious) proceedings to determine whether the prosecutor and the defence are ready to go to trial.
This is a person who is convicted of an offence of any kind for the first time.
Judges - when sitting in higher appeal courts - can make decisions in cases that give guidance to other judges about the appropriate sentence to use in similar types of cases. These decisions are known as guideline judgments. These judgments can made by both the High Court (when sitting as the appeal court), and by the Sheriff Appeal Court. See our Guideline Judgments page for further detail.
The headline sentence is the sentence selected by the court which takes into account the seriousness of the offence and any aggravating and mitigating factors. It does not take into account any adjustment of the sentence for other reasons, such as a discount for a plea of guilty at an early stage in the case, and may therefore not be the sentence actually imposed by the court.
High Court of Justiciary
This is Scotland's supreme criminal court. It hears the most serious criminal cases, such as murder and rape.
This is an offence that has occurred in the past, sometimes when the law or sentence levels were different to how they are now.
HMA stands for Her Majesty’s Advocate and is the title given to the Lord Advocate, the senior law officer in Scotland. All criminal prosecutions in Scotland are raised in the name of the Lord Advocate. See also Advocate depute.
Home Detention Curfew
This is a system where offenders released from prison are fitted with an electronic tag which lets police know where they are. They must stay at an agreed address for about 12 hours every night. Other conditions can be set for each person depending on their offence. Any offender who breaks the curfew can be taken back to prison. Certain violent or sexual offenders are not eligible for tagging. For more information see 'Home Detention Curfew' on our prison sentences page.
When court hearings are heard in private they are 'in camera'. Most criminal cases are heard in open court where the public can attend. Some cases can be heard in private if they are sensitive or at a very early stage.
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.
These are sentences that do not have a set end point, such as a life sentence. However, the judge will set a punishment part for such sentences. This is the minimum time an offender must spend in prison, or detention. Once this time has been served, the Parole Board will decide if it is safe for the prisoner to be released into the community on licence. On licence means under certain conditions, including being supervised by a social worker.
An indictment is a court document which sets out the charges against the accused in solemn (more serious) cases. Accused people are said to be charged ‘on indictment’ in solemn cases. Solemn cases on indictment are heard before a jury. Less serious charges are brought ‘on summary complaint’.
This is a hearing in summary (less serious) criminal proceedings which allows the court to check whether a case is likely to go to trial on the date that has been set for it. It is intended to minimise any inconvenience to witnesses and others involved in the case if the trial does not go ahead as planned.
The judge is the legal expert who is in charge of court proceedings. In less serious cases, the judge decides whether an accused has committed a crime (this is done by a jury in more serious cases). The judge decides the sentence in all cases.
This review is a way for people to challenge (in the Court of Session) decisions made by public officials or bodies. Judicial reviews are used when no other form of appeal can be used.
This refers to something that is led by judges. For example, the Sentencing Commission was led by judges with the help of other people.
This is the name given to the judges and tribunal panel members who deal with legal matters in Scotland. Judges include High Court and Court of Session judges, sheriffs and justices of the peace.
The jury in Scotland is the group of people (15 in criminal cases and 12 in civil cases) randomly selected by the court to decide the verdict of a serious criminal trial or civil case based on the evidence presented in court.
Justice of the peace
These judges deal with the least serious criminal cases. They are not legally qualified, but sit with a legal advisor who is legally qualified and can give advice on sentencing. Justices of the peace sit only in the Justice of the Peace Court.
Justice of the Peace court
This court deals with the least serious crimes in Scotland.
Law Society of Scotland
This organisation is the professional governing body for Scottish solicitors.
In Scotland, a legal advisor is a legally qualified lawyer who provides independent advice on the law and court procedure to justices of the peace.
Scottish legislation is made up of the laws passed by the Scottish Parliament and by the UK Parliament.
Offenders 'released on licence' are let out of prison into the community on certain conditions - which means they must follow certain rules. Being on licence means they are still serving a prison sentence but can live in the community instead of being in prison. While on licence, they must follow rules, for example, staying at home at night. If they break any of the rules, they will go back to prison (be recalled).
This sentence lasts for the rest of a person’s life. Offenders given a life sentence will serve a period in prison or detention set by the judge. They will then only be released into the community on licence if the Parole Board thinks they are not a risk to the public. On licence means under certain conditions. However, offenders can be recalled to prison at any time if they break, or are at risk of breaking, the terms of their licence.
Long-term determinate sentence
This is a custodial sentence of four years or more.
The Lord Advocate is the senior law officer responsible for the prosecution of crime in Scotland, and is the principal legal adviser to the Scottish Government. He or she also has responsibility for the investigation of deaths.
Lord Justice Clerk
The Lord Justice Clerk is the second most senior judge in Scotland with particular responsibility for criminal law. The Lord Justice Clerk is also Chair of the Scottish Sentencing Council.
Lord Justice General
The Lord Justice General is head of the High Court of Justiciary and the most senior criminal judge in Scotland. Under a different title, he or she is also the Lord President of the Court of Session and the most senior civil judge in Scotland.
The Lord President is the head of the Court of Session, the most senior civil judge in Scotland, and the head of the judiciary (judges). Under a different title, he or she is also the Lord Justice General of the High Court of justiciary and the most senior criminal judge in Scotland.
Mitigating factors make an offence less serious and are likely to make the sentence less severe. See our Sentencing Factors page for more details.
An offence is a breach of law, a crime.
An offender is someone who has committed a crime. The term offender is only used after a person has been convicted of an offence. Before conviction, someone facing a charge is called the accused.
Most criminal hearings are heard in open court where the public can attend. Some sensitive cases are heard in private, which is known as ‘in camera’.
Order for Lifelong Restriction
An OLR is a lifelong sentence put in place to protect the public. It is a sentence of imprisonment which can be imposed on people convicted at the High Court of a serious violent offence (other than murder), a serious sexual offence, an offence which endangers life, or an offence which indicates a tendency to serious violent, sexual or life-endangering offending. The court must impose an OLR where it appears that, because of the nature or circumstances of the offence, there is a likelihood that the offender will in the future seriously endanger the lives, or physical or psychological well-being, of members of the public, if he or she is not in custody.
The judge must set a ‘punishment part’ of the OLR which is the minimum time the offender must spend in prison before being considered by the Parole Board for Scotland for release into the community. If offenders are considered to be safe to serve the rest of their sentence in the community, they will remain under the intensive supervision of a criminal justice social worker. If the person commits another crime, they can be sent back to prison.
The Parole Board for Scotland is an independent body which decides on when eligible offenders are ready to leave prison to serve the remainder of their sentence in the community under the supervision of a social worker.
This is a hearing held in private at the earliest court stage of a serious criminal prosecution.
A plea is the answer the accused gives to the court at the beginning of a case when asked if they are guilty or not guilty of the offence.
Plea in mitigation
The accused, or their lawyer, can address the judge with a plea in mitigation. This brings to the judge's attention any mitigating factors that are likely to make a sentence less severe. For examples of mitigating factors, see our Sentencing Factors page.
This is the date assigned for a criminal case to call in court where the accused is asked whether they plead guilty or not guilty.
This report is generally prepared by a social worker to assist the judge in deciding the most appropriate sentence. It usually includes an assessment of the nature and seriousness of the offence and the impact on a victim. A judge is required to get a pre-sentence report before giving a Community Payback Order or a custodial sentence (if the offender has not received a custodial sentence before, or is under the age of 21).
This is a hearing in the High Court for more serious cases, called solemn proceedings, to decide if the case is ready to go to trial. Some legal or factual issues may also be determined at this stage.
Presumption of innocence
An accused person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty by a court. The court must decide whether the prosecutor has proven the facts they are relying upon for a guilty verdict. The accused does not require to prove their innocence.
When an offender has previously been convicted in court of committing crimes, these are called previous convictions. A person is convicted when they admit they committed a crime or are found guilty by a judge or a jury of committing the crime. Some convictions can be analogous. This means that they are the same or similar to the crime the person is being sentenced for at the time.
Procurators fiscal are based throughout Scotland. They are legally qualified civil servants who receive reports about crimes from the police and others and then decide what action to take in the public interest, including whether to prosecute someone. They also look into deaths that need further explanation and investigate allegations of criminal conduct against police officers.
The prosecutor is a lawyer who puts the case against the accused. In Scotland, the public prosecutor is called a procurator fiscal and is a member of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
This is a process of getting input and feedback from legal professionals, experts, interested parties and members of the public on a proposed piece of work.
If a conviction or sentence is quashed, it is ruled that it is no longer valid and is set aside.
This is a title given to a senior and experienced advocate or solicitor advocate by the Queen, represented by the letters QC after a name. Sometimes a QC is referred to as 'senior counsel'. Being granted the title of QC is also called 'taking silk'.
Re-offending is when a person who has committed an offence (or offences) already, commits another offence.
Offenders released from prison into the community on licence can be recalled (brought back) to prison. For example, because they committed another crime, or otherwise breached the terms of their licence.
This can be helping people to change their offending behaviour and live productive lives in society. This could be training in life skills within prison or in the community.
A sentence is remitted when a sheriff sends a case to the High Court so that a more severe sentence can be given than the maximum allowed at the sheriff court level.
See the Faculty of Advocates.
Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
The SCRA deals with children and young people who may need supervision because they have committed an offence. Children who commit offences may be referred to a children’s hearing, which will consider their needs and behaviour before deciding whether to make an Order called a Compulsory Supervision Order. This can last as long as is necessary (but only until the child turns 18) and must be reviewed at least once a year. Children over the age of 12 who commit offences may be prosecuted in certain circumstances, but this is unusual. Children who are prosecuted and convicted of an offence may be referred by the judge to a children’s hearing which can give advice on sentencing or disposal.
Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service
Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
The SCCRC is a public body that reviews and investigates cases where it is alleged (thought) that there has been a wrong verdict, a wrong sentence, or both.
Scottish Legal Aid Board
SLAB provides money to people to deal with legal cases in court if they are eligible to receive it and can’t pay for it themselves.
Scottish Legal Complaints Commission
This Commission is the point of contact for complaints against lawyers in Scotland including solicitors, advocates, qualified conveyancers and commercial attorneys.
Scottish Statutory Instrument
An SSI is the form in which Acts of Parliament (laws) give powers to Government ministers to make more detailed orders, rules or regulations. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.
Senator of the College of Justice
A Senator of the College of Justice is a judge of the supreme courts appointed by the Queen. The supreme courts are the Court of Session (civil cases) and the High Court of Justiciary (criminal cases). The formal title for a High Court judge in a criminal case is Lord Commissioner of Justiciary.
A judge can decide to discount a sentence by reducing the length because the accused has plead guilty to the offence(s). Any discount should be stated in open court. See our Sentencing Factors page for more detail.
One of the functions of the Scottish Sentencing Council is to develop and publish sentencing guidelines. These guidelines will help judges decide what sentences to give to people who have committed offences. They should also help the public to better understand sentences.
Sentencing guidelines can be general and apply to all offences. Or they may focus on a particular type of offence or category of person who has offended, for example young people. This will be stated clearly on each guideline.
Any guidelines developed by the Council must be approved by the High Court of Justiciary before they have effect.
A sheriff is a judge who deals with more serious civil case and solemn criminal cases in the sheriff courts. See also summary sheriff.
Sheriff Appeal Court
This court hears appeals against summary criminal proceedings from both the sheriff and justice of the peace courts.
The sheriff court deals with the majority of cases in Scotland. Most sheriff court cases are heard by a sheriff alone. But the more serious cases are heard by a sheriff and a jury. Civil matters are heard by a sheriff alone. Summary sheriffs deal with the less serious business in the sheriff court. Cases too serious to be dealt with at the sheriff court are heard at the supreme courts, while the least serious cases are heard at the justice of the peace courts.
The court system in Scotland is divided into six areas called sheriffdoms. These areas are: Glasgow and Strathkelvin; Grampian, Highland and Islands; Lothian and Borders; North Strathclyde; South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway; and Tayside, Central and Fife.
These judges are head of each of Scotland’s six sheriffdoms (areas). A Sheriff Principal is responsible for ensuring the efficient disposal of business in the sheriff courts in their sheriffdom. They also sit in the Sheriff Appeal Court.
Short-term determinate sentence
This is a custodial sentence of less than four years.
These are court proceedings for more serious criminal offences. The charges for these appear on an ‘indictment’ and cases call before a judge and a jury of 15 people in Scotland. Summary proceedings are less serious.
A solicitor is a lawyer who carries out a wide range of work both in and outside of court. In criminal cases, a solicitor defends accused people in less serious cases and instructs advocates in more serious cases.
A solicitor advocate is a solicitor who has extra training so they can appear on behalf of their clients in all the courts in Scotland. Most solicitors can only appear in some of the courts in Scotland.
Solicitor General for Scotland
The Solicitor General for Scotland is the law officer who is deputy to Lord Advocate, the chief legal advisor in Scotland. He or she is also a minister of the Scottish Government. See Lord Advocate.
These are court proceedings for less serious criminal offences. The charges for these appear on a ‘complaint’. These cases call before a justice of the peace or a sheriff sitting without a jury.
A summary sheriff is a judge who deals with certain summary civil business and summary criminal business in the sheriff court. Summary business is less serious than solemn business.
Supervised Release Order
This is an order given by a judge as a sentence, or part of a sentence, saying that an offender must be supervised by a social worker on release from prison (adults) or on release from detention (youths). The offender must have been given a custodial sentence of between 1 and 4 years for a more serious offence - other than a sexual offence.
The supreme courts deal with the most serious cases. The supreme courts in Scotland are made up of the High Court of Judiciary (for criminal cases) and the Court of Session (for civil cases).
This is when the Scottish Prison Service gives a prisoner unescorted access to the community for a short time. This is usually for 1 day, but can be up to 8 days. For more information on why temporary release is given, see the Scottish Prison Service website.
When an accused person pleads not guilty to a crime, the case will go to trial. This is a proceeding where the court hears evidence from witnesses speaking to the alleged crime. At the end of the trial either a jury (in more serious cases) or a judge sitting alone (in less serious cases) will decide whether the prosecutor has proven the guilt of the accused or not.
UK Supreme Court
This Court sits in London and hears cases from across the United Kingdom. For appeals in civil cases in Scotland, the UK Supreme Court is the highest and final court of appeal. It can also hear appeals from Scotland dealing with human rights issues arising in criminal cases.
This is the decision reached at the end of a trial. There are three verdicts in Scotland: guilty; not guilty; and not proven. Guilty means that the accused was found to have committed the crime(s) and not guilty means that the accused was not found to have committed the crime(s). Not proven has the same result as ‘not guilty’ which means the accused is acquitted and cleared of the offence.
This is someone who has been directly affected by the crime committed. Before a criminal case has been proved in court, a person can be referred to as an 'alleged' victim.
This is written by victims of crime telling the judge how the offence has affected them – physically, emotionally and financially. The court must when sentencing have regard to any victim statement which has been put before it, to the extent that it considers the information in the statement to be relevant to the offence.
A witness is someone who gives evidence at a court hearing by answering questions put to them by the judge, prosecutor and defence lawyer. If the accused is defending themselves they will ask the questions rather than a defence lawyer.
Young Offenders' Institution
Youths aged 16 to 21 are sent to a young offenders’ institution, rather than prison.