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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Joyriding (Unlawful Use of an Automobile)  [MCL 750.414]

  • Taking or using an automobile without authority, without the intent to steal (or being a party to such unauthorized taking or using). Unlike UDAA, Joyriding does not require proof of an intent to steal.
  • Penalty: High Court Misdemeanor -- up to 2 years or $1,000.


  • Government official with authority to decide lawsuits brought before courts.


  • The power of the court to decide a case before it, which depends on the type of case and how closely connected the parties are to the county where the court is located. [See also venue.]


  • Persons selected according to law and sworn to inquire into and declare a verdict on matters of fact.


  • A youth under the age of 17.

Juvenile Court

  • Until January 1, 1998, Juvenile Court was a division of the Probate Court, and was responsible for all juvenile delinquency offenses. After January 1, 1998, these cases are prosecuted in the Family Division of Circuit Court.