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Criminal Procedure: Home

Criminal Procedure resources for law students, bar examinees, and other researchers

Useful Definitions

Accusation: A formal charge of criminal wrongdoing.

Acquittal: The legal certification, usually by jury verdict, that an accused person is not guilty of the charged offense.

Arraignment: The initial step in a criminal prosecution whereby the defendant is brought before the court to hear the charges and to enter a plea.

Burden of Proof: A party's duty to prove a disputed assertion or charge.

Crime: An act that the law makes punishable; the breach of a legal duty treated as the subject-matter of a criminal proceeding.

Double Jeopardy: The fact of being prosecuted or sentenced twice for substantially the same offense.

Due Process: The conduct of legal proceedings according to established rules and principles for the protection and enforcement of private rights, including notice and the right to a fair hearing before a tribunal with the power to decide the case.                              

Felony: A serious crime usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death.           

Guilty: A plea of a criminal defendant who does not contest the charges; or, a jury verdict convicting the defendant of the crime charged.

Indictment: The formal written accusation of a crime, made by a grand jury and presented to a court for prosecution against the accused person.

Misdemeanor: A crime that is less serious than a felony and is usually punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or confinement (usually for a brief term) in a place other than prison (such as a county jail).

All definitions come from Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).


Criminal Procedure deals with the set of rules governing the series of proceedings through which the government enforces substantive criminal law. This set of rules specifically governs the investigation, prosecution, adjudication, and punishment of individuals for violating criminal laws. Municipalities, states, and the federal government each have their own criminal codes, defining types of conduct that constitutes crimes. Title 18 of the U.S. Code outlines all federal crimes. Typically, federal crimes deal with activities that either extend beyond state boundaries or directly impact federal interests. The rules, whether federal or state, may cover procedural issues such as criminal arraignment, bail, pretrial release, preliminary hearings, plea bargaining, criminal trials, and criminal discovery.

[Summary from Criminal Procedure, Legal Information Institute, (last visited 10/27/2015).]

Subscription Databases

Bloomberg Law: The Litigation & Dockets tab contains a webpage of Litigation Resources with links to sources such as federal and state court dockets, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and state laws.

To search for cases, click on “Search All Federal and State Court Dockets.” In the search box, Browse through the Select Topic drop-down menu and choose “Criminal Law” to limit your search to criminal cases.

Lexis Advance: Browse Topics—Criminal Law and Procedure

Browse Sources—Texas—Search Criminal Law

Westlaw: There is no Westlaw topic on Criminal Procedure. Instead, use the main search box to search using relevant keywords.  Then, use the left-hand column to view Secondary Sources. Under Publication Type, narrow the search to Texts & Treatises. Some keywords you may wish to use are “unreasonable search and seizure,” “self incrimination,” “probable cause and reasonable suspicion,” or “right to counsel.” Westlaw provides access to many related sources, including Orfield’s Criminal Procedure Under the Federal Rules, Criminal Procedure Handbook, and Litigation: Criminal Procedure Form Finder.

Under Tools—West Key Number System, 35: Arrest, 135H: Double Jeopardy, 307A: Pretrial Procedure, and 349: Searches and Seizures may provide guidance in finding related materials.

Subject Guide

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