Sometime what people call “legalese” is a true term in that some words and charges solely depend on the elements and the wording of the definition of the charge in order for the police to know how to charge you and the jury to know how to deliberate on your case.  The following are just a few of the words that we are asked most frequently the definition of or we feel would be most helpful to your understanding the most common charges we deal with in the Criminal Justice System.

  1. Intentionally – A person acts intentionally with respect to a result or to conduct described by a statute defining an offense, when his purpose is to cause that result or to engage in that conduct.
  2. Knowingly – A person acts knowingly with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute when he is aware that his conduct is of that nature or that circumstance exists.
  3. Recklessly – A person acts recklessly with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in that situation.
  4. Criminal Negligence – A person acts with criminal negligence with respect to a result or to a circumstance with respect to a result or to a circumstance which is defined by statute as an offense when the accused fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in that situation.
  5. Entrapment – “Entrapment occurs when state offices or persons under their control incite, induce, lure or instigate a person into committing a criminal offense which that person would not have otherwise committed.” Geckless v. State, 440 So.2d 1189 (Ala.Crim.App. 1983).
  6. Attempt – A person is guilty of attempt to commit a crime if, with the intent to commit a specific offense, he does any overt act towards the commission of such offense.
  7. Criminal Conspiracy – A person is guilty of criminal conspiracy if, with the intent that conduct constituting an offense be performed, he agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct, and any one or more of such persons does an overt act to effect an objective of the agreement.
  8. Capital Offense – An offense for which a defendant shall be punished by a sentence of death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole according to the provisions of Section 13A -5-39, Code of Alabama (1975).
  9. Homicide – A person commits criminal homicide if he or she intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence causes the death of another person.
  10. Reckless Endangerment – A person commits the crime of reckless endangerment if he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to another person.
  11. Restrain – To intentionally or knowingly restrict a person’s movements unlawfully and without consent, so as to interfere substantially with his liberty by moving him from one place to another, or by confirming him either in the place where the restriction is or in a place to which he has been moved.
  12. Sexual Intercourse-Such term has its ordinary meaning and occurs upon any penetration, however slight; emission is not required.
  13. Deviate Sexual Intercourse – Any act of sexual gratification between two persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.
  14. Mentally Incapacitated – Such term means that a person is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his conduct because he or she is under the influence of a narcotic or intoxicating substance administered to him without consent, or to any other incapacitating act committed upon him without his consent.
  15. Forcible Compulsion – Physical force that overcomes earnest resistance or a threat, express or implied, that places a person in fear of immediate death or serious physical injury to himself or another person.
  16. Sodomy, First Degree– A person commits Sodomy in the first degree if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person by forcible compulsion. Sodomy is typically defined also as anal or oral sexual contact.
  17. Harasses – A person engages in an intentional course of conduct directed at a specified person which alarms or annoys that person, or interferes with the freedom of movement of that person, and conduct which serves no legitimate purpose.
  18. Distribute (as it applies to the statute dealing with pornography) – To import, export, sell, rent, lend, transfer possession, of or title to, display, exhibit, show, present, provide, broadcast, transmit, retransmit, communicate by telephone, play, orally communicate or perform.
  19. Sexting– a portmanteau of sex and texting and is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between mobile phones.
  20. Distribution of a Controlled Substance – a person commits the crime of unlawful distribution of a controlled if, except as otherwise authorized, he or she sells, furnishes, gives away, delivers, or distributes a controlled substance enumerated in Schedules I through V.
  21. Possession of a Controlled Substance – A person commits the crime of unlawful possession of controlled substance if except as otherwise authorized, he possesses a controlled substance enumerated in the listed drug Schedules I through V.  To possess a substance, you must have dominion and control over the substance.
  22. Trafficking – Trafficking is very similar to Possession in that the person must obtain dominion and control over the substance but it must be a specific amount.  There are different specified amounts for all of the controlled substances and illegal drugs that are Scheduled including marijuana.
  23. Manufacturing – A person commits the crime of unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance if he makes / manufactures a controlled substance enumerated in the Drug Schedules or Possesses precursor substances as determined in Section 20-2-181, Code of Alabama (1975), in any amount with the intent to unlawfully manufacture a controlled substance. (Many other factors can be used to charge Manufacturing this is only a very general meaning and by far not a thorough definition of the term from a charging standpoint).
  24. Driving Under the Influence – The statute allows for the State to prove a DUI in five different ways; therefore, giving it five different meanings.  Please refer to the section of this website on DUI law to find the five different meanings.
  25. Surveillance – Secret observation of the activities of another person for the purpose of spying upon and invading the privacy of the person observed.

 

The above 25 terms are just a sampling of how definitions are constructed in the Criminal Code of Alabama (1975).  Please do not hesitate to contact our firm for any information on any term or definition that you have been charged with or questioned about because legal definitions can vary vastly from what is used as the everyday definition of such language.