The terms and definitions on this page are relevant to criminal cases in the State of Michigan, United States of America, unless noted otherwise. Criminal laws and procedures in other states and countries may be very different.

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The legal system can be filled with confusing phrases and terms. This list should help you to understand that system a little better.

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Habeas Corpus

  • A writ (order) to bring a person before a court. In its most common usage, the writ directs a warden or jailer to bring a prisoner or person detained so that the court may determine whether such person is lawfully confined.


  • A statement made outside of court (i.e., not from the witness stand at the present proceeding) that is offered into evidence not merely to prove that the statement was made but to prove that it was true. Dozens of long-established exceptions exist to the general rule that hearsay statements are inadmissible in court; the exceptions are based on circumstances where the out-of-court statements carry a likelihood of trustworthiness (e.g., deathbed statements, self-incriminating statements, statements made to doctors about medical conditions, etc.).

High Court Misdemeanor

  • See Circuit Court Misdemeanor.

Hung Jury

  • A criminal jury that cannot reach a unanimous verdict.

H.Y.T.A. (Holmes Youthful Trainee Act)  [ MCL 762.11, MCL 762.12, MCL 762.13, MCL 762.14]

  • Discretionary sentence where person who pleads guilty to a crime committed between his/her 17th & 21st birthdays may, with the youth's consent and without entering an adjudication of guilt, be assigned the status of a youthful trainee.
  • The person may be placed on probation, or committed to jail or prison. Upon successful completion of all terms set by the judge, the court will dismiss the charge.
  • If the person fails to successfully complete the terms of probation, the judge may terminate YTA status, enter an adjudication of guilt and sentence the defendant.
  • YTA is not permitted for life, major controlled substance or traffic offenses.
  • YTA status is not a conviction for a crime.
  • Unless the court enters a judgment of conviction against the individual for the criminal offense, all proceedings regarding the disposition of the criminal charge and the individual's assignment as youthful trainee are closed to public inspection, but are be open to the courts, the department of corrections, the department of social services, and law enforcement personnel for use only in the performance of their duties.