Kris Seago
Government/Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Academic Lower Division
Austin Community College
  • ACC Liberal Arts
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    Glossary: The Court System of Texas

    arraignment: when a defendant is formally charged and made aware of their rights

    capital case: a criminal case in which the death penalty is a possible punishment

    civil law: a branch of law that deals with disputes, usually between private individuals over relationships, obligations, and responsibility

    complaint: the presentation of a grievance by the plaintiff in a civil case

    courts of appeal: the 14 intermediate-level appellate courts that hear appeals from district and county courts to determine whether the decisions of these lower courts followed legal principles and court procedures.

    criminal law: the branch of law that regulates the conduct of individuals, defines crimes, and specifies punishments for criminal acts.

    defendant: an individual, company, or institution sued or accused in a court of law

    district courts: the major trial courts in Texas, which usually have general jurisdiction over a broad range of civil and criminal cases

    due process: in the Texas criminal justice system, the state must ensure that every person is treated equally in legal matters

    felony: a serious criminal offense, punishable by a prison sentence or a fine; a capital felony is punishable by death or a life sentence

    hierarchical: In the Texas court system, cases start in local trial courts, then work their way up to appeals courts.

    justice of the peace courts: local trial courts with limited jurisdiction over small claims and very minor criminal misdemeanors

    juvenile courts: in Texas, a juvenile is defined as young as 10 years old, and a juvenile can be convicted as an adult as young as 14 years old. Juvenile courts preside in the District Courts

    misdemeanor: a minor criminal offense usually punishable by a small fine or short jail sentence

    municipal courts: local trial courts with limited jurisdiction over violations of city ordinances and very minor criminal misdemeanors

    plaintiff: the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court in order to seek a legal remedy

    plea bargaining: occurs when the defendant and the prosecutor negotiate a deal to avoid having to go to trial

    precedent: in common law legal systems, a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.

    probate courts: handle wills and estates for deceased persons in Texas’ largest counties

    Texas Supreme Court: the highest civil court in Texas; consists of nine justices and has final state appellate authority over civil cases.

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    The Court System of Texas: Glossary. Authored by: Andrew Teas. License: CC BY: Attribution