Glossary of terms used

Acquitted (acquittal)

A court finding that the defendant is not guilty.

Apprehended Violence Order (AVO)

Court orders that protect people from physical assault, stalking, harassment, intimidation or damage to property by another person. These include Provisional AVOs that are made by the Police to protect you until you attend the first court date, Interim AVOs that can protect you from one court date until the next court date, and Final AVOs which protect you for a specified period of time.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

The standard by which the court/jury must decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If there is reasonable doubt that

the person did not commit the crime they cannot be found guilty.

Breach/Breaching (relates to AVOs and bail)

Breaking or not obeying a court order like AVOs or bail conditions. Also known as contravening an order.

Community Corrections Office (Probation and Parole) NSW

The corrective services department that supervises persons on parole.

Community Services (FACS/ Family and Community Services)

Formerly known as DoCs or Department of Community Services and now known as Family and Community Services NSW, FACS or just Community Services.

This is the state government department responsible for working with vulnerable families where children are at risk of abuse and neglect.

Custody/Custodial Sentence

Refers to a court decision that the defendant must spend time in a prison or remand centre.

Defence Lawyer

The lawyer for a person who has been charged with a crime. They represent the defendant.


The person also known as: the accused, offender, perpetrator, rapist, abuser.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)

See Prosecutor below.

Local Area Commander

The NSW Police Force is divided into Local Area Commands each of which has its own Local Area Commander to whom you can make a police complaint


This acronym means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer.

NSW Ombudsman

The NSW Ombudsman is an independent and impartial watchdog. Their job is to make sure that agencies they watch over fulfill their functions properly and improve their delivery of services to the public.

Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC)

The Legal Services Commissioner receives complaints about solicitors and barristers in New South Wales.


Parole is the release of an offender from custody to serve the balance of their sentence in the community. Parole does not mean that offenders are free without supervision. While on parole, the offender is still considered to be under a sentence. Supervision requirements may include drug testing and conditions as to where and with whom the defendant lives.


A prosecutor can be a specially trained police officer (in local court and children’s court) or a lawyer from the ODPP (Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions).

They represent the state in a criminal case as the offence is taken to have been committed against the community.

Victims in criminal matters do not usually need their own lawyer because the prosecutor speaks to the court about the matter on their behalf.

Protected Confidence

Something you said to a counsellor, social worker caregiver, GP or nurse about a sexual assault where you were the victim. The privacy of a protected confidence can be protected by law. See Sexual Assault Communications Privilege below.

Remand Centre

A prison where persons charged with a crime may be housed while they wait to apply for bail or attend their hearing. Time spent in a remand centre is often counted as part of the sentence if the defendant is found guilty and given a custodial sentence.


See Sexual Assault Investigation Kit (SAIK) below.

Sexual Assault Communications Privilege

A special law which says it is important to keep your relationship with your counsellor and the things that you tell

them private and if, during a sexual assault trial, anyone wants to see the notes about what you have discussed they need to have very good reasons to do this.

Sexual Assault Investigation Kit (SAIK)

Commonly known as a ‘Rape Kit’. This is the kit that is used by specially trained doctors or nurses to collect ‘forensic’ evidence from you after a sexual assault including swabs of various body parts, blood and urine pathology results and notes by the examining doctor.


An oral or written account of the event. All witnesses in a criminal matter, including police officers who attend the scene, will usually be asked to give a statement.


A court order issued in a court case to direct a person or agency to either:

  • attend court to give evidence; or
  • produce documents to the court for evidence; or
  • both attend court and produce document


The person who the crime was committed against. Also known as the complainant, witness, survivor.


A document issued by a judge or magistrate of the court authorising that a person be arrested for the purpose of being brought to court.


A person who saw or heard an event happen. The victim of a sexual assault is also referred to as a witness in criminal trials.

Witness Assistance Service (WAS)

A support service for victims and witnesses of crime to assist them through the court process. It is a program of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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