Legal Terms

Should you come within the criminal justice system, there are specific terms you need to know. 

Your attorney will receive police reports, laboratory reports, and statements from witnesses to the charges that may be brought against you. 

The first term you should know is “Under Seal.” An Under Seal filing means that the filings (such as a Motion to Suppress and other motions or ex-parte filings) are seen only by the prosecutor, your defense attorney and the court. No one else sees the copies that are filed by either party “under seal.” 

The next step up is a filing that is “In Camera.” That filing similar to the above is not seen by the other side and is seen only by the judge. In-Camera may be used when the defense wants to put on an entrapment defense and wants to alert the court of that possibility. For in an entrapment defense the defendant may admit doing the act but was entrapped to do it. So the filing is done in camera without the prosecution seeing such filing. 

Discovery may be “Redacted” before giving such reports over to the defense. That means that portions of the report are blacked out so the receiving party does not know for instance the home address of a witness or that the statement of a party involves someone else that is still under investigation. 

The last term is the “Protective Order.” The Protective Order is an application made by usually the prosecution to the court with an Order that only the defense attorney can see the discovery or that such discovery can be shown to the defendant, but the defendant cannot obtain a copy of the discovery due to the protective order signed by the court. The Protective Order is done where the discovery materials may contain specific private information such as Social Security numbers, credit reports, and information relevant but also private to the potential witness.