Glossary of legal terms

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Civil judgment — A civil ruling against a person requiring satisfaction of financial obligations. In criminal cases, sometimes issued after a person has failed to pay fines, fees, surcharges or restitution by the original deadline. 

Court costs — Court-related expenses that a defendant must pay. Wisconsin levies numerous fees, including filing fees and surcharges including for DNA collection, to support court operations and help pay for the state Crime Lab. Wisconsin lists its fees, forfeitures, fines and surcharges online. Due to mandatory court costs, a person who received a $10 fine would have to pay at least $465.60 for a misdemeanor and $540.60 for a felony.

Fine — A criminal sanction that requires a person to pay a specific amount of money for the crime committed. Payment goes to the governmental unit that prosecuted the crime. 

Furlough — An authorized absence from a prison or jail. In Outagamie County, furloughs are authorized by the court, and the lengths of these absences may vary. An inmate on furlough is required to adhere to certain conditions. Furloughs may be granted for situations such as funerals or family emergencies. 

Judgment of conviction — A concluding “guilty” judgment and the resulting punishment that is imposed in a case.

Probation — A period of court-ordered community supervision after conviction in lieu of incarceration. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections supervises probation. Probation includes standard rules from the DOC, and may also include limitations or requirements set by the court and probation agent. If terms of the probation are violated, the probation may be revoked and the person may be required to return to court for sentencing or to serve the sentence originally imposed by the court. 

Probation revocation —The cancellation of probation after probation terms are violated. Typically followed by sentencing or the imposition of a previously issued sentence.

Restitution — A penalty that requires a person to pay a victim for loss, damage or injury relating to their case.

Sentencing after revocation — Takes place after terms of probation are violated and probation is terminated to determine what types of sanctions or penalties a person must now face. Only occurs if a sentence was not previously imposed and stayed while a person served probation.

Stay — The act of halting a legal proceeding through the order of a court or judge. Wisconsin law generally limits stays of a sentence to 60 days, placing them on probation with the state Department of Corrections or for “legal cause” — a term that remains poorly defined in Wisconsin.

Information comes from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, the Wisconsin Circuit System website, the Outagamie County website, the State Bar of Wisconsin website, state statutes and interviews with legal experts.

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