Journalist's Guide

Nunc Pro Tunc : Translated from Latin: “now for then;” the phrase used when an order is issued on one date but is effective as if issued on an earlier date when it ought to have been issued. Original Jurisdiction : The jurisdiction of the first court to hear a case. Parole : A conditional release from imprisonment that is made by a parole board and entitles a defendant to serve the remainder of a sentence outside of prison as long as all of the conditions of release are met (compare “probation”). Peremptory Challenge : The mechanism by which either the defense or prosecution (or either party in a civil case) strikes a potential juror from the jury list without cause; cannot be used for an unconstitutional reason such as race or gender. Personal Recognizance : A guarantee of a defendant’s appearance in court (a.k.a. “own recognizance”) based solely on their signed promise (no bail bond required). Petit Jury : An ordinary jury for the trial of an action in Maryland, generally 12 for criminal trials and 6 for civil trials, not including alternates (Compare “Grand Jury”). Petty Offense : An offense for which the authorized penalty does not exceed imprisonment for 3 months or a fine of $500. Plea : An answer to a criminal charge including: not guilty, guilty, nolo contendere, not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. Post-conviction : A procedure by which a convicted defendant challenges the conviction and/or sentence on the basis of some alleged violation or error. Pre-sentence Investigation : A confidential report ordered by the Report (PSI) judge and produced by the Division of Parole and Probation, prior to sentencing, to provide background information (job, finances, family status, community ties, etc.) and prior criminal record of a defendant and, in certain cases, a victim impact statement. Preliminary Hearing : A hearing held in the District Court, unless waived by defendant, to determine whether there is probable cause to believe the defendant committed an offense(s); available when the offense(s) charged is not within the exclusive jurisdiction of the District Court. Presumption : An inference of the truth or falsity of a proposition or fact, that stands until rebutted by evidence to the contrary. Prima Facie : Translated: “on the first appearance;” sufficient on its face to prevail until contradicted and overcome by other evidence. Privilege : A person’s right not to testify on a matter or communication protected by law. Probable Cause : Reasonable grounds for belief in the existence of facts that support a charge; the basis for issuing a charging document or search warrant. Probation : A conditional avoidance of some or all imprisonment granted by a judge after conviction of a defendant and before or as part of imposition of sentence.


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