Criminal Glossary of Terms


The charges are read, the defendant is advised of his or her rights, and a plea of guilty or not guilty is entered.

Arrest Warrant

The defendant will be arrested, taken to jail and later arraigned in District Court. An arrest warrant must be issued by a Henderson County District Judge’s Office.

Criminal Summons

A Summons is an order that the defendant appear in District Court. This is a notice and not an arrest warrant. The Summons will advise the defendant to appear in Court for the arraignment.


A criminal offense punishable by death or imprisonment for one year or more. There is no statute of limitations on felony charges.

Grand Jury

A jury of 12 to 23 persons convened in private session to evaluate accusations against persons charged with crime and to determine whether the evidence warrants an indictment.


A formal written accusation, drawn up and submitted to a grand jury by the public prosecuting attorney, charging one or more persons with a crime.


A criminal offense less serious than a felony, punishable by up to a year in jail, a $500 fine, or both. There is a one year statute of limitations on misdemeanor charges. The criminal complaint must be issues within the one year period.

Preliminary Hearing

A proceeding before a judicial officer in which the officer must decide whether a crime was committed, whether the crime occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, and whether there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime.

Pre-Trial Conference

A court appearance which allows both sides of the case to negotiate, file motions, and/or set the case for trial.


The act of making good or compensating for loss, damage or injury.


A written document requiring an appearance in court to give testimony.


A jury will hear the evidence and render a verdict of guilty or not guilty.


A criminal offense punishable by a fine only.