Legal Definitions


A proceeding in which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.


A monetary amount set by the court that a defendant can post in order to be released from custody. The bail is usually based upon such factors as the defendant's dangerousness to the community and flight risk.


Postponements in court hearings and trials.


A person charged with breaking the law.

Defense Attorney

An attorney hired or appointed to represent the defendant and defend him/her against criminal charges.


The process by which the prosecution turns over all evidence against the defendant. Discovery can include written or oral statements.


An oral or written notice to the court and the defendant by the prosecutor which declares that the prosecution has terminated. If the defendant is in custody he/she will be released on that charge.


A crime carrying more than one year possible imprisonment.

Grand Jury

Eighteen citizens who are selected at random from voting, hunting, fishing, PFD and similar rosters to hear evidence presented by a prosecutor to determine if there is enough evidence to bring a person to trial for a crime.

Guilty Plea

A defendant charged with any crime may plead guilty, not guilty, or a no contest plea.


Formal court proceedings that occurs in a courtroom and are open to the public.


A formal, written accusation issued by a grand jury charging someone with a crime after considering evidence presented by a prosecutor. An indictment is not proof of a crime.


A crime carrying maximum jail time of one year or less.

Own Recognizance (OR)

Releasing the defendant from custody without requiring any bond.

Plea Bargain

An agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant admits having committed a crime. In return, the prosecutor asks the judge to impose a less severe sentence than had the defendant been convicted at a trial.


A sentencing option for most misdemeanor and felony convictions where the defendant avoids some/all incarceration, and is released back into the community under the supervision of a probation officer for a specific time period, with many rules to follow.


The attorney who represents the State of Alaska in a criminal prosecution.

Release Conditions

Requirements imposed by the court that the defendant must follow if he/she is released from custody. These conditions can include no contact with the victim and witnesses, geographical restrictions, drug testing, etc.


Payments ordered by the judge to repay victims for economic losses incurred as the result of the crime (property loss or injuries). Does not include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress or other non-economic damages that can result in compensation through a civil law suit.

Speedy Trial Rule

Defendants are entitled by law to have their case tried within 120 days from the date they are arrested or served with a document charging them with a crime. The defendant can ask the courts for a delay in the trial.


A written order to be at the court proceedings at a certain date and time. The witness is subject to a penalty for failing to comply.

Victim Impact Statement

A statement, usually in the form of a letter or spoken directly to the judge, from the victim or survivors concerning how this crime has affected the victim.