Law and Order

The police:

They do a number of things. When someone commits a crime (= breaks the law and does something wrong / illegal / against the law) the police must investigate (= try to find out what happened / who is responsible). If they find the person responsible for the crime, they arrest them (= take them to the police station). At the police station, they question them ( = ask them questions to find out what they know) and if they are sure the person committed the crime, the person is charged with the crime (= the police make an official statement that they believe the person committed the crime). The person must then go to court for trial.

The court:

In court, the person charged with the crime (now called the defendant or accused) must try to prove (= provide facts to show something is true) that they did not commit the crime; in other words prove that they are innocent (* guilty). The jury listens to all the evidence (= information about the crime, for and against the defendant) and then makes their decision.


If the defendant is convicted of the crime (= the jury decides that the defendant is guilty), the judge will give the sentence (= the punishment). For example, if a person is convicted of murder, the sentence will be many years in prison. The person then becomes a prisoner, and the room they live in is called a cell.

For crimes that are not serious (often called minor offences, e.g. illegal parking), the punishment is usually a fine (= money you have to pay).