Glossary of Terms
Although related by blood to a few lawyers, one detective, and one criminologist, I have acquired my working knowledge of criminal law firsthand. That being said, I wish someone had explained all this mumbo-jumbo before I got arrested in Manhattan for leaving my boyfriend an angry voicemail— so here.
AA: Alcoholics Anonymous, not to be confused with American Airlines.
ADJOURNED: To be continued. Sequels are never that great unless you get an ADC.
ADC: Adjourned in Contemplation of Dismissal. The holy grail of court rulings. Basically, it means that you’re off the hook as long as you don’t get in trouble again. If you’re offered one, take it, unless you’re certain that you’re going to get acquitted.
ACQUITTED: Not guilty. Plain and simple.
A.D.A.: Assistant District Attorney. Prosecutors representing We the People. During trial, the judge will address them by their maiden name, People.
ADDICTION. Consistently performing and action that makes you feel better, regardless of its consequences.
AFFIDAVIT: A pinkie swear.
ALIEN: A person who is not an United States citizen living on American soil. Contrary to general opinion, an alien doesn’t come from outer space, although we do travel by air sometimes. A legal alien is better off than an illegal one. All aliens, regardless of their method of transportation, can be deported to their countries of origin if they upset We the People.
ARRAIGNED ARREST: The only civilized way to get arrested to appear in front of a judge. You or your lawyer can negotiate when you want to surrender, and better yet, what to wear.
BENCH TRIAL: A trial without a jury. The judge (seated at the bench) will rule.
CENTRAL BOOKING: Jail.
C.O.: Correctional officer.
COMPLAINING WITNESS: Victim.
CR: Court room.
COUNSELORS: Lawyers on the defense or prosecution.
COURTESY. PROFESSIONALISM. RESPECT.: The motto written on NYPD cars.
CRIMINAL CONTEMPT: Disobeying a court order. An empty threat, in my experience.
CROSSED CASE. Asking Mother Justice to clean up your messy breakup. You sue me, and I sue you. Should you find yourself in this predicament, get a lawyer — an expensive one. I didn’t, and I’m still regretting it.
CROSS EXAMINATION: The interrogation that goes on during a trial. It is CROSSED because whoever is on the witness stand will be “examined” by both the prosecution and the defense. Grueling experience.
DEFCON. Defense Readiness Condition. Unlike video games, the higher the score, the more scared you should be.
DEFENDANT: A weird and confusing nomenclature for alleged criminals.
DEPOSITION: In cases of domestic violence, the fastest way to bury your soon-to-be-ex. An oral testimony given under oath to the prosecution that will be transcribed, signed as an affidavit, and used as evidence. If you want to sweep it all under the carpet, do not sign a deposition. If you want to punish the bastard, do sign it.
D.A: District attorney.
DV: Domestic violence.
EXPUNGEMENT: To “Command + Z” a criminal record.
FELONY: A regrettable fuck-up.
FRANCO: To be honest, in Spanish. Not to be confused with the short man with a mustache that ruled Spain with an iron fist for forty years, in the most dishonest way.
GLL: Good luck, love.
GOLDEN PARACHUTE: To be fired (with benefits).
HONOR (HIS or HER): A judge. Now that you know what it means, the honorable part is not always a given.
INDICTED: You’re it. You’ve been officially accused of (allegedly) committing a crime.
L,A: Love, Always.
L.A.: Los Angeles.
LAW. A source of inspiration for TV shows; in ancient times, the written rules that governed behavior.
LSD: Arguably, the most potent mind-altering substance. Nicknamed acid, it is the bar mitzvah of the wild at heart. Under its influence you get to see things, should you feel compelled to see more than meets the eye.
LOVE: The initial score of a tennis match. 0–0, that is.
MISDEMEANOR: A cross between mis (wrong) and demeanor (behavior). A long word to define a minor wrongdoing. Do not be fooled, though — if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, going to the big house is a possibility (up to a year).
MOLLY: A rebrand of the synthetic drug known as ecstasy, X, E, and XTC.
NOLA: New Orleans, Louisiana. A mighty town.
NAWLINS: A phonetic spelling of the abovementioned awesome town.
NYPD: New York City Police Department.
OBJECTION: What the lawyers yell at the judge during trial. You’ve seen this in the movies.
PINK: When it comes to getting arrested, my color of choice.
PEOPLE: This appropriation was originally well intended. We the people preambles the United States of America Constitution and it was meant to be an all inclusive statement implying that people not any one person or God were empowering a Government to rule them. Ideally in fairness.
PLAINTIFF: Whoever sues another and gets the ball rolling.
PLEA BARGAIN: Admitting guilt to a lesser charge in order to avoid trial and to merely pay a fine. While the practice is illegal in many countries, my guess is that in the future, it will be as popular as Black Friday, and as with any bargain, you’ll be able to get it off the racks with a credit card.
PTO: Paid Time Off
PS1: Formerly the first public school in NYC, now a branch of the MOMA.
SECOND AMENDMENT: The Founding Fathers’ worst choice of language. Of course they didn’t mean that every jackass has “the right to bear arms” and kill whoever the fuck bothers them on a sunny day. It needs to be amended again. Seriously.
STS: Shot to shit, wasted.
RO: Restraining order, also referred to as to an order of protection.
SOB: Son of a bitch. Nothing to do with his mom, who is probably just trying to do her best.
SQUAT AND COUGH: A Pilates exercise widely used around the globe in strip searches. It works.
SUSTAINED/OVERRULED: Objections can be sustained — the judge considers the question irrelevant and you don’t have to answer it, or overruled, when the judge does consider the question relevant and the witness (much to her dismay) must answer.
SRY: Sorry. Like the rest of texting lingo, a tribute to less is more.
SUBPOENA: Unless you’re a Latin professor or a soccer player, there’s no way to know that it means under penalty. As a footnote, the actual subpoena document is a great study in typography.
TRIAL: A highly competitive sport that involves two or more people and a judge that determines who wins.
TO BE SERVED: To be officially presented with a court order. The faster the serve, the better the game — just ask tennis players or drinkers.
TO SETTLE OUT OF COURT: For this ideal situation to happen, all parties must agree. In cases of domestic violence, it rarely happens. That’s why we play the game in the courtroom.