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Vocabuilder: The Legal System

VOCAB LIST: The Verdict

verdict (n.) – the decision in a trial (usually “guilty” or “not guilty”

Everyone is curious to hear what the jury’s verdict will be in this case.


convicted – “found guilty”; when a judge or jury decides someone is guilty

acquitted – “found not guilty”; when a judge or jury decides someone is not guilty

After he was convicted of murder, the criminal went to jail.

When the jury acquitted him, John began crying tears of joy.


felony (n.) – a very serious crime

misdemeanor (n.) – a crime that is not as serious as a felony

If you steal more than $1,000, it is considered a felony and you can be sent to jail. However, if the amount stolen is less than $1,000, it is a misdemeanor and you will probably just have to pay a fine.


plea (n.) – the defendant’s statement of whether he/she is guilty or innocent

plead (v.) – to officially state whether you are guilty or innocent

“What’s your plea?” asked the judge. The defendant replied, “Not guilty, your honor.”

If you plead guilty, sometimes the prosecutor will agree to a reduced sentence. This is called a “plea bargain”.


sentence (n., v.) – the punishment; to punish a person who has been convicted

After he was convicted, the man was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was very upset because he didn’t expect such a long sentence.


fine (n.) money paid to a victim as punishment

The judge ordered the thief to pay a $200 fine.


compensate (v.) – to pay money to someone because you have done something wrong

Because I accidentally hit Rita’s car, the judge ordered me to compensate her for the full amount of repairs.


probation (n.) – instead of going to jail, a person may go on “probation” and meet with a “probation officer regularly for a certain period of time

The thief was lucky to avoid jail; the judge sentenced him to five years’ probation instead.


parole (n., v.) – an agreement that lets a criminal leave prison early – the criminal must meet with a “parole officer” regularly and stay out of trouble

It can often be hard for people on parole to get a job, because many employers are unwilling to trust them.

Prosecutors are arguing that the convicted murderer is still dangerous and should not be granted parole.


death penalty (n.) – a sentence of “death” for a serious crime (such as murder)

Many people are opposed to the death penalty because they argue that it is too cruel.


Vocabuilder: The Legal System

VOCAB REVIEW: Legal Proceedings











death penalty



Fill in the blanks below with words from the box above.


1. Rich people often hire expensive lawyers, so they are more likely to be _____________ of crimes. On the other hand, for poor people who cannot afford expensive lawyers, they are more likely to be ____________.


2. The defendant was convicted of murder yesterday. He has to return to court in one month to find out what how long his prison __________ will be.


3. The prosecutors told the defendant that if he __________ guilty, they will not seek the death penalty.


4. When I was 17, I got caught stealing a car. Because I was a juvenile, the judge sentenced me to __________ instead of prison. However, I also had to ___________ the victim, which was difficult because I didn’t have much money.


5. In many states, if you are convicted of a ____________, you are not allowed to vote in elections.


6. Because his crime was only a _____________, Jason only had to pay a $200 __________.


7. The jury was unable to reach a ____________, so the judge told them to deliberate for one more day and try their best to reach a decision.


8. Prosecutors usually only seek the _______________ for people who are accused of very violent murders.


9. After serving seven years in prison, the woman is hoping to get out on __________ so she can see her family again and return to a normal life.

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