How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

707 terms

Legal Glossary ENGLISH

STUDY
PLAY
ABANDONMENT
A parent's or custodian's act of leaving a child without adequate care, supervision, support, or parental
ABATEMENT OF ACTION
A suit which has been quashed and ended.
ABSTRACTACT
summary of a larger work, wherein the principal ideas of the larger work are contained.
ABSTRACT OF RECORD
A short, abbreviated form of the case as found in the record.
ABSTRACT OF TITLE
A chronological summary of all official records and recorded documents affecting the title to aparcel of real property.
ACCESSORY
A person who aids or contributes in the commission of a crime.
ACCOMPLICE
One who knowingly, voluntarily, and intentionally unites with the principal offender in the commission ofa crime. A partner in a crime.
ACCORD
A satisfaction agreed upon between the parties in a lawsuit which bars subsequent actions on the claim.
ACCORD AND SATISFACTION
A method of discharging a claim upon agreement by the parties to give and accept something in settlement of the claim.
ACCUSATION
A formal charge against a person, to the effect that he has engaged in a punishable offense.
ACCUSED
The generic name for the defendant in a criminal case.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
1. A statement of acceptance of responsibility. 2. The short declaration at the end of a legal paper showing that the paper was duly executed and acknowledged.
ACQUIT
To legally certify the innocence of one charged with a crime. To set free, release or discharge from an obligation, burden or accusation. To find a defendant not guilty in a criminal trial.
ACQUITTAL
In criminal law, a finding of not guilty. In contract law, a release, absolution, or discharge from an obligation, liability, or engagement.
ACTION
Case, cause, suit, or controversy disputed or contested before a court of justice.
ADJUDICATE
To determine finally.
ADJUDICATION
Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree. Also the judgment given.
ADMINISTRATOR
1. One who administers the estate of a person who dies without a will. 2. A court official.
ADMISSIBLE
Pertinent and proper to be considered in reaching a decision.
ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE
Evidence that can be legally and properly introduced in a civil or criminal trial.
ADMISSION
Voluntary acknowledgment of the existence of certain facts relevant to the adversary's case.
ADMONISH
To advise or caution. For example the Court may caution or admonish counsel for wrong practices.
ADOPTION
To take into one's family the child of another and give him or her the rights, privileges, and duties of a child and heir.
ADVERSARY SYSTEM
The trial method used in the U.S. and some other countries. This system is based on the belief that truth can best be determined by giving opposing parties full opportunity to present and establish their evidence, and totest by crossexamination the evidence presented by their adversaries. All this is done under the established rules ofprocedure before an impartial judge and/or jury.
AFFIANT
A person who makes and signs an affidavit.
AFFIDAVIT
A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer havingauthority to administer oaths.
AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE
Without denying the charge, the defendant raises circumstances such as insanity, self-defense,or entrapment to avoid civil or criminal responsibility.
AFFIRMED
In the practice of appellate courts, the word means that the decision of the trial court is correct.
AGENT
One who has authority to act for another.
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
An attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another or purposely, knowingly or recklesslycausing such injury, or an attempt to cause or purposely or knowingly cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
AGGRAVATED BATTERY
The unlawful use of force against another with unusual or serious consequences such as theuse of a dangerous weapon.
AGGRAVATING FACTORS
Any factors associated with the commission of a crime which increase the seriousness of theoffense or add to its injurious consequences.
AGREED STATEMENT OF FACTS
A statement of all important facts, which all the parties agree is true and correct,which is submitted to a court for ruling.
AGREEMENT
A mutual understanding and intention between two or more parties. The writing or instrument which isevidence of an agreement. (Although often used as synonymous with contract, agreement is a broader term.)
AID AND ABET
Help, assist, or facilitate the commission of a crime.
ALFORD PLEA
A special type of guilty plea by which a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes that the State hasufficient evidence to convict; normally made to avoid the threat of greater punishment. Source: Black's Law Dictionary(1996); North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970).
ALIBI
A defense claim that the accused was somewhere else at the time a crime was committed.
ALIMONY
A court-ordered allowance that one spouse pays the other spouse for maintenance and support while they areeither separated, pending suit for divorce, or after they are divorced.
ALLEGATION
The assertion of a party to an action, setting out what he expects to prove.
ALLEGE
To state, recite, assert, claim, maintain, charge or set forth. To make an allegation.
ALLEGED
Asserted to be true as depicted or a person who is accused but has not yet been tried in court.
ALLOCUTION
A defendant's statement in mitigation of punishment.
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR)
Settling a dispute without a full, formal trial. Methods includemediation, conciliation, arbitration, and settlement, among others.
AMEND
To change, correct, revise, improve, modify, or alter.
AMENDMENT
The correction of an error admitted in any process.
ANNOTATION
A case summary or commentary on the law cases, statutes, and rules illustrating its interpretation.
ANNUAL REVIEW
Yearly judicial review, usually in juvenile dependency cases, to determine whether the child requirescontinued court supervision or placement.
ANSWER
The defendant's response to the plaintiff's allegations as stated in a complaint. An item-by-item, paragraph-by-paragraph response to points made in a complaint; part of the pleadings.
APPEAL
A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial wasconducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal."
APPEARANCE
A coming into court as party or interested person or as a lawyer on behalf of party or interested person.
APPELLANT
The party appealing a final decision or judgment.
APPELLATE COURT
A court having jurisdiction to hear appeals and review a trial court's procedure.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION
The appellate court has the right to review and revise the lower court decision.
APPELLEE
The party against whom an appeal is taken. Sometimes called a respondent.
ARBITRATION
The referral of a dispute to an impartial third person chosen by the parties to the dispute who agree in advance to abide by the arbitrator's award issued after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard.
ARGUMENT
Remarks addressed by attorney to judge or jury on the merits of case or on points of law.
ARRAIGN
The procedure where the accused is brought before the court to hear the criminal charge(s) against him or her and to enter a plea of either guilty, not guilty or no contest.
ARRAIGNMENT
A proceeding in which the accused is brought before the court to plead to the criminal charge in the indictment or information. The charge is read to him or her and he or she is asked to plead guilty or not guilty or, where permitted, nolo contendere (no contest). Another term for preliminary hearing.
ARREST
To deprive a person of his liberty by legal authority.
ARREST OF JUDGMENT
Postponing the effect of a judgment already entered, ordinarily because of an error apparent on the record .
ARSON
The malicious burning of someone else's or one's own dwelling or of anyone's commercial or industrial property.
ASSAULT
Any willful attempt or threat to inflict injury upon the person of another, when coupled with the present ability to do so, and any intentional display of force such as would give victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm.
ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON
An aggravated unlawful assault in which there is threat to do bodily harmwithout justification or excuse by use of any instrument calculated to do serious bodily harm or cause death.
ASSAULT, AGGRAVATED
An assault committed with the intention of committing some additional crime.
ASSIGNEE
The person to whom property rights or power are transferred by another, a grantee.
ASSUMPTION OF RISK
In tort law, a defense to a personal injury suit. The essence of an affirmative defense is that the plaintiff assumed the known risk of whatever dangerous condition caused the injury.
AT ISSUE
The time in a lawsuit when the complaining party has stated his or her claim and the other side has responded with a denial and the matter is ready to be tried.
ATTACHMENT
Taking a person's property to satisfy a court-ordered debt.
ATTEMPT
An endeavor or effort to do an act or accomplish a crime, carries beyond preparation, but lacking execution.
ATTEST
To bear witness to, to affirm to be true or genuine, to certify.
ATTORNEY
Attorney at law, lawyer, counselor at law.
ATTORNEY OF RECORD
The lawyer who represents a client and is entitled to receive all formal documents from the court or from other parties. Also known as counsel of record.
ATTORNEY-AT-LAW
An advocate, counsel, or official agent employed in preparing, managing, and trying cases in the courts.
ATTORNEY-IN-FACT
A private person (who is not necessarily a lawyer) authorized by another to act in his or her place, either for some particular purpose, as to do a specific act, or for the transaction of business in general, not of legal character. This authority is conferred by an instrument in writing, called a letter of attorney, or more commonly, a power of attorney.
AUTHENTICATE
To give authority or legal authenticity to a statute, record, or other written instrument.
AUTO TAMPERING
The manipulation of an automobile and its parts for a specific purpose.
BAIL
Money or other security (such as a bail bond) provided to the court to temporarily allow a person's release from jail and assure his or her appearance in court. Bail and Bond are often used interchangeably.
BAIL BOND
An obligation signed by the accused to secure his or her presence at the trial. This obligation means that the accused may lose money by not properly appearing for the trial. Often referred to simply as bond.
BAIL BONDSMAN
A person who is the liable party in paying the bond for the defendant's release from jail.
BAIL FORFEITURE
Bail that is kept by the court as a result of not following a court order.
BAIL REVIEW
A hearing established to re-evaluate the bail amount that was originally set for the accused.
BAILIFF
A court officer who has charge of a court session in the matter of keeping order and has custody of the jury.
BANKRUPT
The state or condition of a person who is unable to pay his or her debts as they are or become due.
BANKRUPTCY
Refers to statutes and judicial proceedings involving persons or businesses that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court in getting a fresh start.
BAR
1. Historically, the partition separating the general public from the space occupied by the judges, lawyers, and other participants in a trial. 2. More commonly, the term means the whole body of lawyers.
BAR EXAMINATION
A state examination taken by prospective lawyers in order to be admitted and licensed to practice law.
BATTERED CHILD SYNDROME (B.C.S.)
Physical condition of a child indicating that external or internal injuries result from acts committed by a parent or custodian.
BATTERY
An offensive touching or use of force on a person without the person's consent.
BATTERY, SPOUSAL
An offensive touching or use of force on one's spouse without the spouse's consent.
BENCH
The seat occupied by judges in courts.
BENCH CONFERENCE
A meeting either on or off the record at the judge's bench between the judge, counsel, and sometimes the defendant, out of the hearing of the jury.
BENCH TRIAL
Trial without a jury in which a judge decides the facts.
BENCH WARRANT
An order issued by a judge for the arrest of a person.
BENEFICIARY
Someone named to receive property or benefits in a will. In a trust, a person who is to receive benefits from the trust.
BEQUEATH
To give a gift to someone through a will.
BEQUESTS
Gifts made in a will.
BEST EVIDENCE
Primary evidence; the best evidence available. Evidence short of this is "secondary." That is, anoriginal letter is "best evidence," and a photocopy is "secondary evidence."
BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT
The standard in a criminal case requiring that the jury be satisfied to a moralcertainty that every element of a crime has been proven by the prosecution. This standard of proof does not require that the state establish absolute certainty by eliminating all doubt, but it does require that the evidence be so conclusive that all reasonable doubts are removed from the mind of the ordinary person.
BIAS
Inclination, bent, a pre-conceived opinion or a predisposition to decide a cause or an issue a certain way.
BIFURCATE
To try issues separately, such as guilt and criminal responsibility in a criminal proceeding or liability and damages in a civil action.
BILL OF PARTICULARS
A statement of the details of the charge made against the defendant.
BIND OVER
To hold a person for trial on bond (bail) or in jail. If the judicial official conducting a hearing finds probable cause to believe the accused committed a crime, the official will bind over the accused, normally by setting bail for the accused's appearance at trial.
BODY ATTACHMENT
A written order issued by a court directing a sheriff or peace officer to take custody of and bring before the court: 1) A witness who fails to comply with a subpoena, 2) a party who fails to comply with a court order in a civil action, or 3) a material witness in a criminal case.
BOND
A certificate or evidence of a debt. Often used interchangeably with bail.
BOOKING
The process of photographing, fingerprinting, and recording identifying data of a suspect. This process follows the arrest.
BOOKING NUMBER
The number assigned to the criminal record that corresponds to the person's arrest.
BOOKMAKING
The act of collecting the bets of others or making odds on future gambling events.
BRANDISHING A WEAPON
The act of showing a weapon to another person, typically the police or the victim.
BREACH
The breaking or violating of a law, right, obligation, or duty either by doing an act or failing to do an act. BREAKING AND ENTERING - Breaking and entering a dwelling of another in nighttime with intent to commit a felony therein.
BREATHALYZER TEST
Test to determine content of alcohol in one arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor by analyzing a breath sample.
BRIBE
A gift, not necessarily of monetary value, given to influence the conduct of the receiver.
BRIEF
A written statement prepared by the counsel arguing a case in court. It contains a summary of the facts of a case,the pertinent laws, and an argument of how the law applies to the facts supporting counsel's position.
BURDEN OF PROOF
The obligation of a party to establish by evidence a requisite degree of belief concerning a fact in the mind of the trier of fact or the court.
BURGLARY
The act of entering or remaining illegally in a movable or immovable structure, vehicle or dwelling with intent to commit a felony.
CALENDAR
List of cases scheduled for hearing in court.
CALLING THE DOCKET
The public calling of the docket or list of causes at commencement of term of court, for setting a time for trial or entering orders.
CAPITAL CASE
A criminal case in which the allowable punishment includes death. CAPITAL CRIME - A crime punishable by death.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Punishment by death for capital crimes. Death penalty.
CAPTION
The heading on a legal document listing the parties, the court, the case number, and related information.
CASE
A general term for an action, cause, suit, or controversy brought before the court for resolution.
CASE LAW
Law established by previous decisions of appellate courts, particularly the Supreme Court.
CASE NUMBER
See DOCKET NUMBER.
CAUSATION
The act which produces an effect.
CAUSE
A lawsuit, litigation, or action. Any question, civil or criminal, litigated or contested before a court of justice.
CAUSE OF ACTION
The facts that give rise to a lawsuit or a legal claim.
CEASE AND DESIST ORDER
An order of an administrative agency or court prohibiting a person or business from continuing a particular course of conduct.
CERTIFICATION
1. Written attestation. 2. Authorized declaration verifying that an instrument is a true and correct copy of the original.
CERTIFIED
Attested as being true or an exact reproduction.
CHAIN OF CUSTODY
An accounting for the whereabouts of the tangible evidence from the moment it is received in custody until it is offered in evidence in court.CHALLENGE - An objection, such as when an attorney objects at a hearing to the seating of a particular person on a civil or criminal jury.
CHALLENGE FOR CAUSE
Objection to the seating of a particular juror for a stated reason (usually bias or prejudice for or against one of the parties in the lawsuit). The judge has the discretion to deny the challenge. This differs from peremptory challenge.
CHALLENGE TO THE ARRAY
Questioning the qualifications of an entire jury panel, usually on the ground of partiality or some fault in the process of summoning the panel.
CHAMBERS
A judge's private office. A hearing in chambers takes place in the judge's office outside of the presence of the jury and the public.
CHANGE OF VENUE
Moving a lawsuit or criminal trial to another place for trial.
CHARACTER EVIDENCE
The testimony of witnesses who know the general character and reputation of a person in the community in which he or she lives.
CHARGE TO THE JURY
The judge's instructions to the jury concerning the law that applies to the facts of the case on trial.
CHARGING DOCUMENT
A written accusation alleging a defendant has committed an offense. Includes a citation, an indictment, information, and statement of charges.
CHIEF JUDGE
Presiding or Administrative Judge in a court.
CHILD ABUSE
Any form of cruelty to a child's physical, moral, or mental well-being.
CHILD MOLESTATION
Any form of indecent or sexual activity on, involving, or surrounding a child under the state's designated age.
CHILD SUPPORT
The legal obligation of parents to contribute to the economic maintenance, including education, of their children. Money paid by one parent to another toward the expenses of the children of the marriage.
CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
All evidence except eyewitness testimony. One example is physical evidence, such as fingerprints, from which an inference can be drawn.
CITATION
A reference to a source of legal authority. A direction to appear in court, as when a defendant is cited into court, rather than arrested.
CIVIL ACTION
Noncriminal case in which one private individual or business sues another to protect, enforce, or redress private or civil rights.
CIVIL CASE
A lawsuit brought to enforce, redress, or protect private rights or to gain payment for a wrong done to a person or party by another person or party. In general, all types of actions other than criminal proceedings.
CIVIL PROCEDURE
The rules and process by which a civil case is tried and appealed, including the preparations for trial, the rules of evidence and trial conduct, and the procedure for pursuing appeals.
CLAIM
The assertion of a right to money or property.
CLASS ACTION
A lawsuit brought by one or more persons on behalf of a larger group.
CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE
Standard of proof commonly used in civil lawsuits and in regulatory agency cases. It governs the amount of proof that must be offered in order for the plaintiff to win the case.
CLEMENCY OR EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
Act ofconsequences of a criminal act, accusation, or conviction. It may take the form of commutation or pardon.
CLERK
Officer of the court who files pleadings, motions, judgments, etc., issues process, and keeps records of court proceedings.
CLOSING ARGUMENT
The closing statement, by counsel, to the trier of facts after all parties have concluded their presentation of evidence.
CODE
A collection, compendium, or revision of laws, rules, and regulations enacted by legislative authority.
CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS
The CFR is the annual listing of executive agency regulations published in the daily Federal Register, and the regulations issued previously which are still in effect. The CFR contains regulatory laws governing practice and procedure before federal administrative agencies.
CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
The rules of conduct that govern the legal profession. The Codecontains general ethical guidelines and specific rules written by the American Bar Association.
CODICIL (kod'i-sil)
An amendment to a will.
COLLATERAL
1. Property that is pledged as security against a debt. 2. A person belonging to the same ancestral stock (a relation), but not in a direct line of descent.
COLLATERAL ATTACK
An attack on a judgment other than a direct appeal to a higher court.
COMMISSIONER
A person who directs a commission; a member of a commission. The officer in charge of a department or bureau of a public service.
COMMIT
1. To execute, perpetrate, or carry out an act. To commit a crime. 2. To send a person to prison, asylum, or reformatory by a court order.
COMMITMENT
1. The action of sending a person to a penal or mental institution. 2. The order directing an officer to take a person to a penal or mental institution.
COMMITMENT ORDER
A court order directing that an individual be kept in custody, usually in a penal or mental facility.
COMMON LAW
The legal system that originated in England and is now in use in the United States. It is based on judicial decisions rather than legislative action.
COMMUNITY PROPERTY
Property owned in common by husband and wife each having an undivided one-half interest by reason of their marital status. For example, the earnings of one spouse during the marriage do not belong solely to that spouse; the earnings are community property.
COMMUTATION
The reduction of a sentence, such as from death to life imprisonment.
COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE
A legal doctrine by which acts of the opposing parties are compared to determine the liability of each party to the other, making each liable only for his or her percentage of fault.
COMPETENCY
Mental capacity of a person, especially with regard to his or her ability to stand trial and to assist counsel in his or her defense.
COMPLAINANT
The party who complains or sues; one who applies to the court for legal redress. Also called the plaintiff.
COMPLAINT
The legal document that usually begins a civil lawsuit. It states the facts and identifies the action the court is asked to take. 2. Formal written charge that a person has committed a criminal offense.
COMPLY
To act in accordance with, to accept, to obey.
CONCILIATION
A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps lower tensions, improve communications, and explore possible solutions. Conciliation is similar to mediation, but it may be less formal.
CONCURRENT JURISDICTION
The jurisdiction of two or more courts, each authorized to deal with the same subject matter.
CONCURRENT SENTENCES
Sentences for more than one crime that are to be served at the same time, rather than one after the other. See also CUMULATIVE SENTENCES.
CONDEMNATION
The legal process by which the government takes private land for public use, paying the owners a fair price. See EMINENT DOMAIN.
CONDITIONAL RELEASE
A release from custody which imposes regulations on the activities and associations of the defendant. If a defendant fails to meet the conditions, the release is revoked.
CONFESSION
Voluntary statement made by one who is a defendant in a criminal trial, which, if true, discloses his or her guilt.
CONFISCATE
To seize or take private property for public use (the police confiscated the weapon).
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
1. A real or seeming incompatibility between one's private interests and one's public or fiduciary duties. 2. A real or seeming incompatibility between the interests of two of a lawyer's clients, such that the lawyer is disqualified from representing both clients if the dual representation adversely affects either client or if the clients do not consent.
CONSECUTIVE SENTENCES
Successive sentences, one beginning at the expiration of another, imposed against a person convicted of two or more violations.
CONSERVATORSHIP
Legal right given to a person to manage the property and financial affairs of a person deemed incapable of doing that for himself or herself. (Conservators have somewhat less responsibility than guardians. See also guardianship.)
CONSIDERATION
The cause, price, or impelling influence which induces a party to enter into a contract.
CONSPIRACY
An agreement by two or more persons to commit an unlawful act; in criminal law, conspiracy is a separate offense from the crime that is the object of the conspiracy.
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT
A right guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution, interpreted by the federal courts; also, a right guaranteed by some other constitution (such as a state constitution).
CONTEMPT OF COURT
The finding of the court that an act was committed with the intent of embarrassing the court, disobeying its lawful orders, or obstructing the administration of justice in some way.
CONTINUANCE
The adjournment or postponement of a session, hearing, trial, or other proceeding until a future date.
CONTRACT
A legally enforceable agreement between two or more competent parties made either orally or in writing. CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE - A legal doctrine that says if the plaintiff in a civil action for negligence also was negligent, he or she cannot recover damages from the defendant for the defendant's negligence. Most jurisdictions have abandoned the doctrine of contributory negligence in favor of comparative negligence.
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
Any of the drugs whose production and use are regulated by law, including narcotics, stimulants, and hallucinogens.
CONVICT
1. A person who has been found guilty of a crime and is serving a sentence for that crime; a prison inmate. 2. To find a person guilty of an offense by either a trial or a plea of guilty.
CONVICTION
A determination of guilt which is the result of a trial or entry of a plea of guilty or nol contendere (no contest), regardless of whether adjudication of guilt or imposition of sentence was suspended, deferred, or withheld.
CORONER
Public official charged with duty to make inquiry into the causes and circumstances of any death which occurs through violence or suddenly, with marks of suspicion.
CORROBORATE
To support with evidence or authority; make more certain.
CORROBORATING EVIDENCE
Supplementary evidence that tends to strengthen or confirm the initial evidence.
CORROBORATION
Confirmation or support of a witness' statement or other fact.
COSTS
An allowance for expenses in prosecuting or defending a suit. Ordinarily this does not include attorney fees.
COUNSEL
A legal representative, attorney, lawyer.
COUNSEL TABLE
The physical location where the defense and prosecuting parties are seated throughout the duration of the trial.
COUNT
Each of the allegations of an offense listed in a charging document.
COUNTERCLAIM
A claim presented by a defendant in a civil lawsuit against the plaintiff. In essence, a counter lawsuit within a lawsuit.
COUNTERFEIT
To forge, to copy or imitate, without authority or right, and with the purpose to deceive or defraud, by passing off the copy as genuine.
COUNTY JAIL
A building or structure used to house alleged criminals and/or convicted criminals of local area crimes.
COURT
1. A unit of the judiciary authorized to decide disputed matters of fact, cases or controversies. 2. Figuratively, the judge or judicial officer. Judges sometimes use "court" to refer to themselves in the third person, as in "the court has read
the briefs."
...
COURT ADMINISTRATOR
An elected constitutional officer serving as an arm of the court with respect to all court filings and related proceedings.
CLERK OF COURT
An individual appointed by the court to oversee administrative matters.
COURT APPOINTED COUNSEL
A defense attorney designated by the court to represent a defendant who does not have the funds to retain an attorney. COURT COSTS - The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit, other than the attorneys' fees. An amount of moneymay be awarded to the successful party (and may be recoverable from the losing party) as reimbursement for court costs.
COURT OF RECORD
A court in which the proceedings are recorded, transcribed, and maintained as permanent records.
COURT ORDER
A written direction or command delivered by a court or judge.
COURT REPORTER
A person who makes a word-for-word record of what is said in court and produces a transcript of the proceedings upon request.
COURT, APPEALS
In some states, the highest appellate court, where it is the Court's discretion whether to hear the case on appeal.
COURTS, JUVENILE and DEPENDENCY
Courts having jurisdiction over cases involving children under 18. Casesinvolve delinquent, dependent, and neglected children.
COURT, NIGHT
A specialized court that deals with cases during the late evening and early morning hours.
COURT, TRAFFIC
A specialized court that hears crimes dealing with traffic offenses.
COURTROOM
The section of a courthouse in which the judge presides over the proceedings.
CREDIBILITY
The quality in a witness which makes his or her testimony believable.
CRIME
1. An act of omission or commission in violation of law which carries criminal consequences. 2. Criminal activity in general relating to a specific time or place.
CRIMINAL
1. One who has been convicted of a criminal offense. 2. That which is connected with the law of crimes; That which has the character of a crime (criminal justice; criminal intent).
CRIMINAL CASE
A case brought by the government against a person accused of committing a crime.
CRIMINAL INSANITY
Lack of mental capacity to do or abstain from doing a particular act; inability to distinguish right from wrong. State of mind rendering a defendant incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, such that he or shecannot be held accountable for a crime.
CRIMINAL RECORD
1. Arrest record. A written account listing all the instances in which a person has been arrested. 2. A form completed by a police officer when a person is arrested.
CRIMINAL SUMMONS
An order commanding an accused to appear in court.
CROSS-CLAIM
A claim by codefendant or co-plaintiffs against each other and not against persons on the opposite side of the lawsuit.
CROSS-EXAMINATION
The questioning of a witness produced by the other side.
CUMULATIVE SENTENCES
Sentences for two or more crimes to run consecutively, rather than concurrently. CUSTODY - 1. The care and control of a thing or person for inspection, preservation, or security. 2. The care, control, and maintenance of a child awarded by a court to one of the parents in a divorce or separation proceeding. 3. The detention of a person by virtue of lawful process or authority.
DAMAGES
Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful act or negligence of another person.
DEATH PENALTY
State-imposed death as punishment for a serious crime. Capital punishment.
DEATH ROW
The area of a state or federal prison where criminals who are sentenced to death are confined until their sentence is commuted or carried out.
DECISION
The judgment reached or given by a court of law.
DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
A judgment of the court that explains what the existing law is or expresses the opinion of the court without the need for enforcement.
DECREE
An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully and finally disposes of the litigation. Aninterlocutory decree is a preliminary order that often disposes of only part of a lawsuit.
DEFAMATION
That which tends to injure a person's reputation. Libel is published defamation, whereasslander is spoken.
DEFAULT
A failure to respond to a lawsuit within the specified time.
DEFAULT-JUDGMENT
A judgment entered against a party who fails to appear in court, respond to the charges, or does not comply with an order, especially an order to provide or permit discovery.
DEFENDANT
1. In a criminal case, the person accused of the crime. 2. In a civil case, the person being sued.
DEFENSE
1. Defendant's statement of a reason why the plaintiff or prosecutor has no valid case against defendant,especially a defendant's answer, denial, or plea. 2. Defendant's method and strategy in opposing the plaintiff or theprosecution. 3. One or more defendants in a trial.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY
An attorney who represents a person accused of committing a crime.
DELIBERATE
1. To discuss, ponder or reflect upon before reaching a decision. A judge will usually deliberate before announcing a judgment. 2. Intentional, characterized by consideration and awareness.
DELIBERATION
The jury's decision-making process after hearing the evidence and closing arguments and being giventhe court's instructions.
DELINQUENCY, JUVENILE
Antisocial behavior by a minor; especially behavior that would be criminally punishable if the actor were an adult, but instead is usually punished by special laws pertaining only to minors.
DEMURRER
A motion to dismiss a civil case because of the legal insufficiency of a complaint.
DEPENDENT CHILD
A child who is homeless or without proper care through no fault of the parent, guardian, or custodian. DEPORTATION - The act of removing a person to another country. Order issued by an immigration judge, expelling an alien from the United States. A deportation has certain consequences regarding the number of years within which a deportee may not legally immigrate. There are also criminal consequences for reentry within a prescribed time period.
DEPOSITION
A pretrial discovery device by which one party questions the other party or a witness for the other party. It usually takes place in the office of one of the lawyers, in the presence of a court reporter, who transcribes what is said. Questions are asked and answered orally as if in court, with opportunity given to the adversary to cross-examine. Occasionally, the questions are submitted in writing and answered orally.
DEPRIVATION OF CUSTODY
The court transfer of legal custody of a person from parents or legal guardian to another person, agency, or institution. It may be temporary or permanent.
ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY
An assistant lawyer to the state's attorney.
STATE'S ATTORNEY
A lawyer elected to represent the state in criminal cases in his or her respective juicial circuit. See PROSECUTOR.
DESCENT AND DISTRIBUTION STATUTES
State laws that provide for the distribution of estate property of a person who dies without a will. Same as intestacy laws.
DETENTION
The act or fact of holding a person in custody; confinement or compulsory delay.
DETENTION HEARING
In juvenile court, a judicial hearing, usually held after the filing of a petition, to determine interim custody of a minor pending a judgment.
DIRECT EVIDENCE
Proof of facts by witnesses who saw acts done or heard words spoken.
DIRECT EXAMINATION
The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.
DIRECTED VERDICT
Now called Judgment as a Matter of Law. An instruction by the judge to the jury to return a specific verdict.
DISBARMENT
Form of discipline of a lawyer resulting in the loss (often permanently) of that lawyer's right to practice law. It differs from censure (an official reprimand or condemnation) and from suspension (a temporary loss of the right to practice law).
DISCLAIM
To refuse a gift made in a will.
DISCOVERY
The procedure by which one or both parties disclose evidence which will be used at trial. The specific tools of discovery include depositions, interrogatories and motions for the production of documents.
DISMISS
To terminate legal action involving outstanding charges against a defendant in a criminal case.
DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE
The dismissal of a case, by which the same cause of action cannot be brought against thedefendant again at a later date.
DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE
The dismissal of a case without preventing the plaintiff from bringing the same cause of action against the defendant in the future.
DISORDERLY CONDUCT
Any behavior, contrary to law, which disturbs the public peace or decorum, scandalizes the community, or shocks the public sense of morality.
DISPOSITION
A final settlement or determination. The court decision terminating proceedings in a case before judgment.
DISSENT
To disagree. An appellate court opinion setting forth the minority view and outlining the disagreement of one or more judges with the decision of the majority.
DISSOLUTION
The act of bringing to an end; termination. The dissolution of a marriage or other relationship.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY
A lawyer appointed or elected to represent the state in criminal cases in his or her respective judicial districts. See PROSECUTOR.
DISTURBING THE PEACE
Conduct which tends to annoy all citizens, including unnecessary and distractingnoisemaking.
DIVERSION
1. The process of removing some minor criminal traffic, or juvenile cases from the full judicial process, on the condition that the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for damages. 2. Unauthorized use of funds.
DIVORCE
Legal dissolution of a marriage by a court. Also termed dissolutionof marriage.
DOCKET
A list of cases to be heard by a court, or a log containing brief entries of court proceedings.
DOCKET NUMBER
The designation assigned to each case filed in a particular court. Also called a case number.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
An assault committed by one member of a household against another.
DOMICILE
The place where a person has his or her permanent legal home. A person may have several residences, but only one domicile.
DOUBLE JEOPARDY
The constitutional prohibition under the Fifth Amendment against a person being put on trial more than once for the same offense.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
The unlawful operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
DRUNK DRIVING
The operation of a vehicle in an impaired state after consuming alcohol that when tested is above the state's legal alcohol limit.
DUE PROCESS OF LAW
The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel, the right to remain silent, theright to a speedy and public trial, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to confront and secure witnesses.
ELEMENTS OF A CRIME
Specific factors that define a crime which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. The elements that must be proven are 1) that a crime has actually occurred, 2) the accused intended the crime to happen, and 3) a timely relationship between the first two factors sufficient to support causation.
EMBEZZLE
To willfully take or convert to one's own use, another's money or property, which the wrongdoer initially acquired lawfully, because of some office, employment, or some position of trust.
EMINENT DOMAIN
The power of the government to take private property for public use through condemnation.
ENHANCE
To make greater in value, to increase.
ENJOINING
An order by the court telling a person to stop performing a specific act.
ENTER A GUILTY PLEA
The formal statement before the court that the accused admits committing the criminal act.
ENTRAPMENT
A defense to criminal charges alleging that agents of the government induced a person to commit a crime he or she otherwise would not have committed.
EQUAL PROTECTION
The guarantee in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that all persons be treated equally by the law.
EQUITABLE ACTION
An action which may be brought for the purpose of restraining the threatened infliction of wrongs or injuries, and the prevention of threatened illegal action.
EQUITY
Generally, justice or fairness.
ESCHEAT (ES-CHET)
The process by which a deceased person's property goes to the state if no heir can be found.
ESCROW
Money or a written instrument such as a deed that, by agreement between two parties, is held by a neutral third party (held in escrow) until all conditions of the agreement are met.
ESTATE
An estate consists of personal property (car, household items, and other tangible items), real property, and intangible property, such as stock certificates and bank accounts, owned in the individual name of a person at the time of the person's death. It does not include life insurance proceeds (unless the estate was made the beneficiary) or other assets that pass outside the estate (like joint tenancy assets).
ESTATE TAX
Generally, a tax on the privilege of transferring property to others after a person's death. In addition to federal estate taxes, many states have their own estate taxes.
ESTOPPEL
A person's own act, or acceptance of facts, which preclude his or her later making claims to the contrary.
EVICTION
Recovery of land or rental property from another by legal process.
EVIDENCE
Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
EVIDENCE, CIRCUMSTANTIAL
Inferences drawn from proven facts.
EVIDENCE, DIRECT
Evidence in form of witness testimony, who actually saw, heard, or touched the subject of question.
EVIDENCE, EVANESCENT
Evidence which can disappear relatively quickly, such as the amount of alcohol in a person's blood.
EXAMINATION, DIRECT
The first examination of a witness by the counsel who called the witness to testify.
EXAMINATION, RECROSS
A second examination of a witness by the opposing counsel after the second examination (or redirect examination) by the counsel who called the witness to testify is completed.
EXAMINATION, REDIRECT
A second examination of a witness by the counsel who called the witness to testify. This examination is usually focused on certain matters that were discussed by the opposing counsel's examination.
EXCEPTIONS
Declarations by either side in a civil or criminal case reserving the right to appeal a judge's ruling upon a motion. Also, in regulatory cases, objections by either side to points made by the other side or to rulings by the agency or one of its hearing officers.
EXCLUSION OF WITNESSES
An order of the court requiring all witnesses to remain outside the courtroom until each is called to testify, except the plaintiff or defendant. The witnesses are ordered not to discuss their testimony with each other and may be held in contempt if they violate the order.
EXCLUSIONARY RULE
The rule preventing illegally obtained evidence to be used in any trial.
EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION
The matter can only be filed in one court.
EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE
Evidence which tends to indicate that a defendant did not commit the alleged crime.
EXECUTE
To complete the legal requirements (such as signing before witnesses) that make a will valid. Also, to execute a judgment or decree means to put the final judgment of the court into effect.
EXECUTOR
A personal representative, named in a will, who administers an estate.
EXHIBIT
A document or other item introduced as evidence during a trial or hearing.
EXHIBIT, PEOPLE'S
Exhibit and/or evidence that is offered by the prosecution.
EXONERATE
Removal of a charge, responsibility or duty.
EXPERT TESTIMONY
Testimony given in relation to some scientific, technical, or professional matter by experts, i.e.,person qualified to speak authoritatively by reason of their special training, skill, or familiarity with the subject.
EXPUNGEMENT
Official and formal erasure of a record or partial contents of a record.
EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES
Circumstances which render a crime less aggravated, heinous, or reprehensible than it would otherwise be.
EXTORTION
The act of obtaining the property of another person through wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear.
EXTRADITION
The process by which one state or country surrenders to another state, a person accused or convicted of a crime in the other state.
EXTRAORDINARY WRIT
A writ, often issued by an appellate court, making available remedies not regularly within the powers of lower courts. They include writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition and quo warranto.
EYE WITNESS
One who saw the act, fact, or transaction to which he or she testifies.
FAILURE TO APPEAR
The act of not appearing in court after being presented with a subpoena or summons.
FAILURE TO COMPLY
The act of not following an order that is directed by the court.
FAIR HEARING
A hearing in which certain rights are respected such as the right to present evidence, to cross examine and to have findings supported by evidence.
FALSE ARREST
Any unlawful physical restraint of another's personal liberty, whether or not carried out by a peace officer.
FALSE IMPRISONMENT
The unlawful restraint by one person of another person's physical liberty.
FALSE PRETENSES
Representation of some fact or circumstance which is not true and is calculated to mislead, whereby a person obtains another's money or goods.
FAMILY ALLOWANCE
A small amount of money set aside from the estate of the deceased. Its purpose is to provide for the surviving family members during the administration of the estate.
FELONY
A crime of a more serious nature than a misdemeanor, usually punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary for more than a year and/or substantial fines.
FELONY MURDER
A murder committed during the commission of a felony such as robbery, burglary, or kidnapping.
FIDELITY BOND
See SURETY BOND.
FIDUCIARY
A person having a legal relationship of trust and confidence to another and having a duty to act primarily for the others benefit, e.g., a guardian, trustee, or executor.
FIELD SOBRIETY TEST
A method of determining whether a person is intoxicated using a motor skills test which is administered by testing the driver's speaking ability and/or physical coordination.
FIFTH AMENDMENT
Among other rights, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that a person cannot be compelled to present self-incriminating testimony in a criminal proceeding.
FILE
To place a paper in the official custody of the clerk of court to enter into the files or records of a case.
FIND GUILTY
For the judge or jury to determine and declare the guilt of the defendant.
FINDING
Formal conclusion by a judge or jury on issues of fact.
FINE
To sentence a person convicted of an offense to pay a penalty in money.
FINGERPRINT
The distinctive pattern of lines on human fingertips that are used as a method of identification in criminal cases.
FIREARM
A weapon which acts by force of gunpowder, such as a rifle, shotgun or revolver.
FIRST APPEARANCE
The initial appearance of an arrested person before a judge to determine whether there is probable cause for his or her arrest. Generally the person comes before a judge within hours of the arrest, and are informed of the charges against him or her and of his or her rights to a preliminary hearing, to counsel,and to bail. No plea is asked for at this state. Also called initial appearance.
FORCIBLE ENTRY AND DETAINER
Ordinarily refers to a summary proceeding for restoring possession of land to one who has been wrongfully deprived of possession.
FORECLOSURE
Procedure by which mortgaged property is sold on default of the mortgagor in satisfaction of mortgage debt.
FORFEIT
To lose, or lose the right to.
FORFEITURE
The loss of money or property resulting from failure to meet a legal obligation or from the illegal nature or use of the money or property.
FORGERY
The act of claiming one's own writing to be that of another.
FOSTER CARE
A program of parental care for children who do not have an in-home parental relationship with either biological or adoptive parents.
FOUNDATION
In a trial, a foundation must be laid to establish the basis for the admissibility of certain types of evidence.
FOURTH AMENDMENT
Among other matters, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without adequate due process .
FRAUD
Intentional, unlawful deception to deprive another person of property or to injure that person in some other way.
GAMBLING
The act of staking money, or other thing of value, on an uncertain event or outcome.
GARNISH
To withhold a debtor's money, and turn it over to another in order to pay a debt. Typically, the one withholding the money is the debtor's employer.
GARNISHMENT
A legal proceeding in which a debtor's money, in the possession of another (the garnishee), is applied to the debts of the debtor, such as when an employer garnishes a debtor's wages.
GENERAL ASSIGNMENT
The voluntary transfer, by a debtor, of all property to a trustee for thebenefit of all of his or her creditors.
GENERAL JURISDICTION
Refers to courts that have no limit on the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear.
GLUE SNIFFING
The act of inhaling glue in order "to get high".
GOOD CAUSE
Substantial reason, one that affords a legal excuse.
GOOD FAITH
An honest belief, the absence of malice, and the absence of design to defraud.
GOOD TIME
A reduction in sentenced time in prison as a reward for good behavior. It usually is one-third to one-half of fthe maximum sentence.
GRAND JURY
Jury of inquiry. The jury which determines which charges, if any, are to be brought against a defendant.
GRAND THEFT
Taking and carrying away the personal property of another person of a value in excess of an amount set by law with the .intent to deprive the owner or possessor of it.
GRANTOR OR SETTLOR
The person who sets up a trust.
GROUNDS
A foundation or basis; points relied on.
GUARDIAN
A person appointed by will or by law to assume responsibility for incompetent adults or minor children.
GUARDIANSHIP
Legal right given to a person to be responsible for the food, housing, health care, and other necessities
GUILTY
Responsible for a delinquency, crime, or other offense; not innocent.
HANDCUFFS
Chains or shackles for the hands to secure prisoners.
HARASSMENT
Words, gestures, and actions which tend to annoy, alarm, and verbally abuse another person.
HARMLESS ERROR
An error committed during a trial that was corrected or was not serious enough to affect the outcome of a trial and
(prejudicial) to be reversed on appeal.
HEARING
A proceeding similar to a trial, without a jury, and usually of shorter duration.
HEARING, CONTESTED
A hearing held for the purpose of deciding issues or fact of law that both parties are disputing.
HEARING, PRELIMINARY
The hearing given to person accused of crime, by a magistrate or judge, to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant the confinement and holding to bail the person accused.
HEARSAY
Statements by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else.Hearsay is usually not admissible as evidence in court.
HIT AND RUN
Crime in which the driver of a vehicle leaves the scene of an accident without identifying himself or herself.
HOLDING CELL
A temporary location that is meant to secure the accused while waiting for trial to begin or continue.
HOLOGRAPHIC WILL
A will entirely written, dated, and signed by the testator in his/her own handwriting.
HOME MONITORING
An alternative to incarceration where an individual is confined to his or her home and monitored electronically.
HOMICIDE
The unlawful killing of one human being by another.
HOSPITAL WARRANT
A warrant that a court issues under Health-General Article Section 12-120 after a probable cause determination
HOSTILE WITNESS
A witness whose testimony is not favorable to the party who calls him or her as a witness. A hostile witness may be asked be cross-examined by the party who calls him or be cross-examined by the party who calls him or leading questions and may her to the stand.
HUNG JURY
A jury whose members cannot agree upon a verdict.
HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION
An imaginary situation, incorporating facts previously admitted into evidence, upon which an expert witness is permitted to give an opinion as to a condition resulting from the situation.
ILLEGAL
Against, or not authorized by law; unlawful.
IMMUNITY
Grant by the court which assures someone will not face prosecution in return for providing evidence in a criminal proceeding.
IMPANEL
To seat a jury. When voir dire is finished and both sides have exercised their challenges, the jury is impaneled.The jurors are sworn in and the trial is ready to proceed.
IMPEACHMENT OF WITNESS
To call into question the truthfulness of a witness.
IMPLIED CONTRACT
A contract in which the promise made by the obligor is not expressed, but inferred by one's conduct or implied in law.
INADMISSIBLE
That which, under the rules of evidence, cannot be admitted as evidence in a trial or hearing.
INCAPACITY
The lack of power or the legal ability to act.
INCARCERATE
To confine in jail.
INCEST
Sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that marriage between them would be unlawful.
INCOMPETENCY
Lack of capacity to understand the nature and object of the proceedings, to consult with counsel, and to assist in preparing a defense.
INCRIMINATE
To make it appear that one is guilty of a crime.
INDECENT EXPOSURE
Exposure to sight of the private parts of the body in a lewd or indecent manner in a public place.
INDEMNIFY
The term pertains to liability for loss shifted from one person held legally responsible to another.
INDEPENDENT EXECUTOR
A special kind of executor, permitted by the laws of certain states, who performs the duties of an executor without intervention by the court.
INDETERMINATE SENTENCE
A sentence of imprisonment to a specified minimum and maximum period of time,specifically authorized by statute, subject to termination by a parole board or other authorized agency after the prisoner has served the minimum term.
INDICTMENT
A formal written accusation, issued by a grand jury, charging a party with a crime.
INDIGENT
Needy and poor. A defendant who can demonstrate his or her indigence to the court may be assigned a court appointed attorney at public expense.
INFORMANT
An undisclosed person who confidentially discloses material information of a crime to the police, which is usually done in exchange for a reward or special treatment.
INFORMATION
A formal written document filed by the prosecutor detailing the criminal charges against the defendant. An alternative to an indictment, it serves to bring a defendant to trial.
INFRACTION
A violation of law, not punishable by imprisonment. Minor traffic offenses are generally considered infractions.
INHERITANCE TAX
A state tax on property that an heir or beneficiary under a will receives from a deceased person's estate. The heir or beneficiary pays this tax.
INITIAL APPEARANCE
In criminal law, the hearing at which a judge determines whether there is sufficient evidence against a person charged with a crime to hold him or her for trial.
INJUNCTION
Writ or order by a court prohibiting a specific action from being carried out by a person or group.
INMATE
A person confined to a prison, penitentiary, or jail.
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY
A belief in the American legal system which states that all people accused of a criminal act are considered not to have committed the crime until the evidence leaves no doubt in the mind of the court or the jury .
INSANITY PLEA
A claim by a defendant that he or she lacks the soundness of mind required by law to accept responsibility for a criminal act.
INSTRUCTIONS
Judge's explanation to the jury before it begins deliberations of the questions it must answer and the applicable law governing the case. Also called charge.
INTANGIBLE ASSETS
Nonphysical items such as stock certificates, bonds, bank accounts, and pension benefits that have value and must be taken into account in estate planning.
INTENT
The purpose to use a particular means to bring about a certain result.
INTERLOCUTORY
Provisional; not final. An interlocutory order or an interlocutory appeal concerns only a part of the issues raised in a lawsuit. Compare to decree .
INTERROGATORIES
Written questions asked by one party in a lawsuit for which the opposing party must provide written answers.
INTERVENTION
An action by which a third person who may be affected by a lawsuit is permitted to become a party to the suit. Differs from the process of becoming an amicus curiae.
INTESTACY LAWS
See DESCENT AND DISTRIBUTION STATUTES.
INTESTATE
Dying without a will.
INTESTATE SUCCESSION
The process by which the property of a person who has died without a will passes on to others according to the state's distribution statutes.
INVESTIGATION
A legal inquiry to discover and collect facts concerning a certain matter.
IRRELEVANT
Evidence not sufficiently related to the matter in issue.
IRREVOCABLE TRUST
A trust that, once set up, the grantor may not revoke.
ISSUE
1) The disputed point in a disagreement between parties in a lawsuit. 2) To send out officially, as in to issue an order.
JAIL
A place of confinement that is more than a police station and less than a prison. It is usually used to hold persons convicted of misdemeanors or persons awaiting trial.
JEOPARDY
The peril in which an accused is placed when he is properly charged with a crime before a court. Jeopardy normally attaches when the petit jury is impaneled.
JOIN
To unite, to combine, to enter into an alliance.
JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY
A legal doctrine that makes each of the parties who are responsible for an injury liable for all the damages awarded in a lawsuit if the other parties responsible cannot pay.
JOINT TENANCY
A form of legal co-ownership of property (also known as survivor ship ). At the death of one co-owner, the surviving co-owner becomes sole owner of the property.
JOINT VENTURE
An association of persons jointly undertaking some commercial enterprise. Unlike a partnership, a joint venture does not entail a continuing relationship among the parties.
JOYRIDING
The illegal taking of an automobile without intent to deprive the owner permanently of the vehicle, often involving reckless driving.
JUDGE
An elected or appointed public official with authority to hear and decide cases in a court of law.
JUDGMENT
The final decision of the court, resolving the dispute; an opinion; an award of damages.
JUDICIAL NOTICE
A court's recognition of the truth of basic facts without formal evidence.
JUDICIAL REVIEW
The authority of a court to review the official actions of other branches of government. Also, the authority to declare unconstitutional the actions of other branches.
JURISDICTION
1. The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. 2. The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
JURISPRUDENCE
The study of law and the structure of the legal system.
JUROR
Member of the jury.
JUROR, ALTERNATE
Additional juror impaneled in case of sickness or disability of another juror.
JURY
A body of persons temporarily selected from the citizens of a particular district sworn to listen to the evidence in a trial and declare a verdict on matters of fact.
JURY BOX
The specific place in the courtroom where the jury sits during the trial.
JURY COMMISSIONER
The court officer responsible for choosing the panel of persons to serve as potential jurors for a particular court term.
JURY FOREMAN
The juror who chairs the jury during deliberations and speaks for the jury in court when announcing the verdict.
JURY TRIAL
Trial in which a jury decides issues of fact as opposed to trial only before a judge.
JURY, HUNG
A jury which is unable to agree on a verdict after a suitable period of deliberation.
JUSTICIABLE
Issues and claims capable of being properly examined in court.
JUVENILE
A young person who has not yet attained the age at which he or she should be treated as an adult for purposes of criminal law and other legal matters.
DETENTION FACILITY
The facility where juvenile offenders are held in custody.
JUVENILE WAIVER
A procedure by which a charge(s) against a minor is transferred from a juvenile to circuit court.
KIDNAPPING
The taking or detaining of a person against his or her will and without lawful authority.
KNOWINGLY
With knowledge, willfully or intentionally with respect to a material element of an offense.
LARCENY
Stealing or theft.
LAW
The combination of those rules and principles of conduct promulgated by legislative authority, derived from court decisions, and established by local custom.
LAW CLERKS
Persons trained in the law who assist judges in researching legal opinions.
LAWSUIT
An action between two or more persons in the courts of law, not a criminal matter.
LAY PERSON
One not trained in law.
LEADING QUESTION
One which implicitly instructs the witness how to answer or which suggests to the witness the answer desired.
LEASE
A contract by which owner of property grants to another the right to possess, use, and enjoy it for a specified period of time in exchange for payment of an agreed price (rent).
LEGAL AID
Professional legal services available usually to persons or organizations unable to afford legal representation.
LENIENCY
Recommendation for a sentence less than the maximum allowed.
LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE
A crime composed of some, but not all, of the elements of a greater crime; commission of the greater crime automatically includes commission of the lesser included offense.
LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
Legal document issued by a court that shows an administrator's legal right to take control of assets in the deceased person's name.
LETTERS TESTAMENTARY
Legal document issued by a court that shows an executor's legal right to take control of assets in the deceased person's name.
LEVY
A seizure; the obtaining of money by legal process through seizure and sale of property.
LEWD CONDUCT
Behavior that is obscene, lustful, indecent, vulgar.
LIABILITY
Legal debts and obligations.
LIABLE
Legally responsible.
LIBEL
Published words or pictures that falsely and maliciously harm the reputation of a person. See DEFAMATION.
LIE DETECTOR
A machine which records by a needle on a graph varying emotional disturbances when answering questions truly or falsely, as indicated by fluctuations in blood pressure, perspiration.respiration
LIEN
A legal claim against another person's property as security for a debt.
LIFE IMPRISONMENT
A type of sentence where the convicted criminal is ordered to spend the rest of his or her life in prison
LIMITED JURISDICTION
Refers to courts that are limited in the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear. For example, traffic violations generally are heard by limited jurisdiction courts.
LINEUP
A police identification procedure by which the suspect to a crime is exhibited, along with others, before the victim or witness to determine if the victim or witness can identify the committed the crime.suspect as the person who
LITIGANT
A party to a lawsuit. Litigation refers to a case, controversy, or lawsuit.
LITIGATION
A lawsuit.
LIVING TRUST
A trust set up and in effect during the lifetime of the grantor. Also called inter vivos trust.
LOITERING
To stand idly around, particularly in a public place.
LYNCHING
Putting a person to death, usually by hanging, without legal authority.
MAGISTRATE
Judicial officer having strictly limited jurisdiction exercising some of the functions of a judge.
MALFEASANCE
Evil doing, ill conduct; the commission of some act which is positively prohibited by law.
MALICE
Ill will, hatred, or hostility by one person toward another which may prompt the intentional doing of a wrongful act without legal justification or excuse.
MALICIOUS MISCHIEF
Willful destruction of property, from actual ill will or resentment toward its owner or possessor.
MALICIOUS PROSECUTION
An action instituted with intention of injuring the defendant and without probable cause,and which terminates in favor of the person prosecuted.
MALPRACTICE
Violation of a professional duty to act with reasonable care and in good faith without fraud or collusion.
MANDATE
A judicial command or order proceeding from a court or judicial officer, directing the proper officer to enforce a judgment, sentence, or decree.
MANSLAUGHTER, INVOLUNTARY
Unlawful killing of another, without malice, when the death is caused by some other unlawful act not usually expected to result in great bodily harm.
MANSLAUGHTER, VOLUNTARY
Unlawful killing of another, without malice, when the act is committed with a sudden extreme emotional impulse.
MATERIAL EVIDENCE
That quality of evidence which tends to influence the trier of fact because of its logical connection with the issue.
MATERIAL WITNESS
In criminal trial, a witness whose testimony is crucial to either the defense or prosecution.
MAYHEM
A malicious injury which disables or disfigures another.
MEDIATION
A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps them agree on a settlement.
MEMORIALIZED
Having addressed any matter in writing.
MENTAL HEALTH
The wellness of a person's state of mind.
MERITS
Strict legal rights of the parties; a decision "on the merits" is one that reaches the right(s) of a party, as distinguished from disposition of a case on a ground not reaching the right(s) raised in an action;
MIRANDA RIGHTS
Requirement that police tell a suspect in their custody of his or her constitutional rights before they question him or her: specifically, the right to remain silent; that any statement made may be used against him or her; the right to an attorney; and if the person cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed if he or she desires.
MIRANDA WARNING
See MIRANDA RIGHTS.
MISDEMEANOR
A lesser offense than a felony and generally punishable by fine or limited jail time, but not in a penitentiary.
MISTRIAL
An invalid trial caused by some legal error. When a judge declares a mistrial, the trial must start again from the beginning, including the selection of a new jury.
MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES
Those which do not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense but which may be considered as reasons for reducing the degree of blame.
MITIGATING FACTORS
Facts that do not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense but which may be considered as reasons for reducing the degree of blame.
MODIFICATION
A change, alteration, or amendment which introduces new elements into the details, or cancels some of them, but leaves the general purpose and effect of the subject-matter intact.
MOOT
A moot case or a moot point is one not subject to a judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a pretended controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has already passed. Mootness usually refers to a court's refusal to consider a case because the issue involved has been resolved prior to the court's decision, leaving nothing that would be affected by the court's decision.
MORAL TURPITUDE
Immorality. An element of crimes inherently bad, as opposed to crimes bad merely because they are forbidden by statute.
MOTION
Oral or written request made by a party to an action before, during, or after a trial asking the judge to issue a ruling or order in that party's favor.
MOTION DENIED
Ruling or order issued by the judge denying the party's request.
MOTION GRANTED
Ruling or order issued by the judge granting the party's request.
MUGSHOT
Pictures taken after a suspect is taken into custody (booked), usually used as an official photograph by police officers.
MULTIPLICITY OF ACTIONS
Numerous and unnecessary attempts to litigate the same issue.
MURDER
The unlawful killing of a human being with deliberate intent to kill.
NEGLIGENCE
Failure to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person would use under the same circumstances.
NEXT FRIEND
One acting without formal appointment as guardian for the benefit of an infant, a person of unsound mind not judicially declared incompetent, or other person under some disability.
NO BILL
This phrase, endorsed by a grand jury on the written indictment submitted to it for its approval, means that the evidence was found insufficient to indict.
NO-CONTEST CLAUSE
Language in a will that provides that a person who makes a legal challenge to the will's validity will be disinherited.
NO-FAULT PROCEEDINGS
A civil case in which parties may resolve their dispute without a formal finding of error or fault.
NOMINAL PARTY
One who is joined as a party or defendant merely because the technical rules of pleading require his presence in the record.
NON-CAPITAL CASE
A criminal case in which the allowable penalty does not include death.
NOT GUILTY
The form of verdict in criminal cases where the jury acquits the defendant, finds him or her not guilty.
NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY
The jury or the judge must determine that the defendant, because of mental disease or defect, could not form the intent required to commit the offense.
NOTICE
Formal notification to the party that has been sued in a civil case of the fact that the lawsuit has been filed. Also, any form of notification of a legal proceeding.
NOTICE TO PRODUCE
In practice, a notice in writing requiring the opposite party to produce a certain described paper or document at the trial, or in the course of pre-trial discovery.
NULL AND VOID
Having no force, legal power to bind, or validity.
NUNCUPATIVE WILL
An oral (unwritten) will.
OATH
Written or oral pledge by a witness to speak the truth.
OBJECT
To protest to the court against an act or omission by the opposing party.
OBJECTION
A protest to the court against an act or omission by the opposing party.
OBJECTION OVERRULED
A ruling by the court against the party making the objection.
OBJECTION SUSTAINED
A ruling by the court in favor of the party making the objection.
OF COUNSEL
A phrase commonly applied to counsel employed to assist in the preparation or management of the case, or its presentation on appeal, but who is not the principal attorney for the party.
OFFENDER
One who commits a crime, such as a felony, misdemeanor, or other punishable unlawful act.
OFFENSE
A crime, such as a felony, misdemeanor, or other punishable unlawful act.
OFFER OF PROOF
Presentation of evidence to the court (out of the hearing of the jury) for the court's decision of whether the evidence is admissible.
ON A PERSON'S OWN RECOGNIZANCE
Release of a person from custody without the payment of any bail or posting of bond , upon the promise to return to court.
OPENING ARGUMENT
The initial statement made by attorneys for each side, outlining the facts each intends to establish during the trial.
OPINION
A judge's written explanation of a decision of the court or of a majority of judges. A dissenting opinion disagrees with the majority opinion because of the reasoning and/or the principles of law on which the decision is based. A concurring opinion agrees with the decision of the court but offers further comment. A per curiam opinion is an unsigned opinion "of the court."
OPINION EVIDENCE
Witnesses are normally required to confine their testimony to statements of fact and are not allowed to give their opinions in court. However, if a witness is qualified as an expert in a particular field, he or she may be allowed to state an opinion as an expert based on certain facts.
ORAL ARGUMENT
An opportunity for lawyers to summarize their position before the court and also to answer the judges' questions.
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
Court order requiring to appear and show cause why the court should not take a particular course of action. If the party fails to appear or to give sufficient reasons why the court should take no action, the court will take the action. In criminal cases, the defendant must show why probation should not be revoked.
ORDER, COURT
A written or verbal command from a court directing or forbidding an action.
ORDINANCE
An act of legislation of a local governing body such as a city, town or county.
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
The court in which a matter must first be filed.
OVERRULE
A judge's decision not to allow an objection. A decision by a higher court finding that a lower court decision was wrong.
OVERT ACT
An open act showing the intent to commit a crime.
PANDERING
Pimping. Arranging for acts of prostitution.
PARALEGAL
A person with legal skills, but who is not an attorney, and who works under the supervision of a lawyer or who is otherwise authorized by law to use those legal skills.
PARDON
A form of executive clemency preventing criminal prosecution or removing or extinguishing a criminal conviction.
PAROLE
Supervised release of a prisoner before the expiration of his or her sentence.
PAROLE EVIDENCE
Oral or verbal evidence rather than written. The Parole Evidence Rule limits the admissibility of parole evidence which would directly contradict the clear meaning of terms of a written contract.
PARTY
A person, business, or government agency actively involved in the prosecution or defense of a legal proceeding.
PATENT
A government grant giving an inventor the exclusive right to make or sell his or her invention for a term of years.
PATERNITY
Fatherhood.
PENALTY
Punishment, civil or criminal, generally referring to payment of money.
PENDING
Begun, but not yet completed. Thus, an action is pending from its inception until the rendition of its final judgment.
PENITENTIARY
A prison or place of confinement where convicted felons are sent to serve out the term of their sentence.
PEOPLE (PROSECUTION)
The state, as in the People of the State of Florida.
PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE
The right to challenge a juror without assigning a reason for the challenge.
PERJURY
A false statement given while under oath or in a sworn affidavit.
PERMANENT INJUNCTION
A court order requiring that some action be taken, or that some party refrain from taking action. It differs from forms of temporary relief, such as a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.
PERMANENT RESIDENT
One who lives in a location for a period of time and denotes it as their official address or residence.
PERSON IN NEED OF SUPERVISION
Juvenile found to have committed a status offense rather than a crime that would provide a basis for a finding of delinquency. Typical status offenses are habitual truancy, violating a curfew, or running away from home. These are not crimes, but they might be enough to place a child under supervision. In different states, status offenders might be called children in need of supervision or minors in need of supervision.
PERSONAL PROPERTY
Tangible physical property (such as cars, clothing, furniture, and jewelry) and intangible personal property. This does not include real property such as land or rights in land.
PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE
Pre-trial release based on the person's own promise that he or she will show up for trial (no bond required). Also referred to as release on own recognizance or ROR.
PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE
The person who administers an estate. If named in a will, that person's title is an executor . If there is no valid will, that person's title is an administrator.
PETIT JURY
The ordinary jury of twelve (or fewer) persons for the trial of a civil or criminal case. So called to distinguish it from the grand jury.
PETITION
A formal, written application to the court requesting judicial action on some matter.
PETITIONER
The person filing an action in a court of original jurisdiction. Also, the person who appeals the judgment of a lower court. The opposing party is called the respondent.
PETTY OFFENSE
A misdemeanor or minor offense or comparatively insignificant criminal act.
PETTY THEFT
The act of taking and carrying away the personal property of another of a value less than $300 with the intent to deprive the owner or possessor of it permanently.
PIMP
To obtain customers for a whore or prostitute. One who obtains customers for a whore or prostitute.
PLAINTIFF
A person who initiates a lawsuit against another. Also called the complainant.
PLEA
In a criminal proceeding, it is the defendant's declaration in open court that he or she is guilty or not guilty. The defendant's answer to the charges made in the indictment or information.
PLEA BARGAIN
The process whereby the accused and the prosecutor in a criminal case work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case subject to court approval. Usually involves the defendant's pleading guilty to a lesser offense or to only one.
PLEADINGS
The written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.
POLLING THE JURY
The act, after a jury verdict has been announced, of asking jurors individually whether they agree with the verdict.
POLYGRAPH
Lie detector test and the apparatus for conducting the test.
POSSESSION OF DRUGS
The presence of drugs on the accused for recreational use or for the purpose to sell.
POST CONVICTION RELIEF PROCEEDING
A procedure by which a convicted defendant challenges the conviction and/or sentence on the basis of some alleged violation or error.
POSTPONEMENT
To put off or delay a court hearing.
POUR-OVER WILL
A will that leaves some or all estate assets to a trust established before the will-maker's death.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
Formal authorization of a person to act in the interest of another person.
PRECEDENT -
A previously decided case that guides the decision of future cases.
PRE-INJUNCTION
Court order requiring action or forbidding action until a decision can be made whether to issue a permanent injunction. It differs from a temporary restraining order.
PREJUDICE
A forejudgment, bias, a preconceived opinion.
PREJUDICIAL ERROR
Synonymous with reversible error ; an error which warrants the appellate court in reversing the judgment before it.
PREJUDICIAL EVIDENCE
Evidence which might unfairly sway the judge or jury to one side or the other.
PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION
The hearing available to a person charged with a felony to determine if there is enough evidence (probable cause) to hold him for trial.
PRELIMINARY HEARING
Another term for arraignment.
PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
In civil cases when it is necessary to preserve the status quo prior to trial, the court may issue a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order ordering a party to carry out a specified activity.
PREMEDITATION -
The planning of a crime preceding the commission of the act, rather than committing the crime on the spur of the moment.
PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE
Evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than the evidence which is offered in opposition to it.
PRE-SENTENCE REPORT
A report to the sentencing judge containing background information about the crime and the defendant to assist the judge in making his or her sentencing decision.
PRESENTMENT
Declaration or document issued by a grand jury that either makes a neutral report or notes misdeeds by officials charged with specified public duties.
PRESUMPTION
An inference of the truth or falsity of a proposition or fact, that stands until rebutted by evidence to the contrary.
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
A hallowed principle of criminal law that a person is innocent of a crime until proven guilty.
PRESUMPTION OF LAW
a rule of law that courts and judges shall draw a particular inference from a particular fact, or from particular evidence.
PRETERMITTED CHILD
A child born or adopted after a will is executed, who is not provided for in the will.
PRETERMITTED SPOUSE
A husband or wife of a deceased spouse married after a will is executed who is not provided for in the will.
PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE
A meeting between the judge and the lawyers involved in a lawsuit to narrow the issues in the suit, agree on what will be presented at the trial, and make a final effort to settle the case without a trial.
PRIORS
A slang term meaning previous conviction(s) of the accused.
PRISON
A federal or state public building or other place for the confinement of persons. It is used as either a punishment imposed by the law or otherwise in the course of the administration of justice
PRIVILEGE
A legal right, exemption or immunity granted to a person, company or class, that is beyond the common advantages of other citizens.
PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS
Confidential communications to certain persons that are protected by law against any disclosure, including forced disclosure in legal proceedings.
PRIVITY
Mutual or successive relationships to the same right of property, or the same interest of one person with another which represents the same legal right.
PROBABLE CAUSE
A reasonable belief that a crime has or is being committed; the basis for all lawful searches, seizures,and arrests.
PROBATE
The court-supervised process by which a will is determined to be the will-maker's final statement regarding how the will-maker wants his or her property distributed.
PROBATE COURT
The court with authority to supervise estate administration.
PROBATE ESTATE
Estate property that may be disposed of by a will.
PROBATION
A sentence imposed for the commission of a crime whereby a convicted criminal offender is released into the community, usually under conditions and under the supervision of a probation officer, instead of incarceration.
PROBATION BEFORE JUDGMENT (PBJ)
Placing a convicted defendant on conditional probation, the successful completion of which will prevent entry of the underlying judgment of conviction
PROBATION DEPARTMENT
The department that oversees the actions of probationers as well as the location of where probation officers work.
PROBATION OFFICER
One who supervises a person placed on probation and is required to report the progress and to surrender the and conditions of the probation.probationer if they violate the terms
PROCEDURAL LAW
The method, established normally by rules to be followed in a case; the formal steps in a judicial proceeding.
PROFFER
An offer of proof as to what the evidence would be if a witness were called to testify or answer a question.
PROOF
Any fact or evidence that leads to a judgment of the court.
PROSECUTING ATTORNEY
See PROSECUTOR and DISTRICT ATTORNEY.
PROSECUTION
A proceeding instituted and carried on in order to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.
PROSECUTOR
A trial lawyer representing the government in a criminal case and the interests of the state in civil matters.
PROSTITUTION
The performance or agreement to perform a sexual act for hire.
PROTECTIVE ORDER
A court order to protect a person from further harassment, service of process, or discovery.
PROXIMATE CAUSE
The act that caused an event to occur. A person generally is liable only if an injury was proximately caused by his or her action or by his or her failure to act when he or she had a duty to act.
PUBLIC DEFENDER
An attorney appointed by a court or employed by a government agency whose work consists primarily of defending people who are unable to hire a lawyer due to economic reasons.
PUNITIVE DAMAGES
Money awarded to an injured person, over and above the measurable value of the injury, in order to punish the person who hurt him.
PURGE
To clean or clear, such as eliminating inactive records from court files; with respect to civil contempt, to cure the noncompliance that caused the contempt finding.
QUASH
To overthrow, to vacate, to annul or make void.
QUASI JUDICIAL
Authority or discretion vested in an officer whose acts partake of a judicial character.
RAP SHEET
A listing of all the criminal convictions against an individual.
RAPE
Unlawful intercourse with an individual without their consent.
RAPE, STATUTORY
See STATUTORY RAPE.
RATIFICATION
The confirmation or adoption of a previous act done either by the party himself or by another.
REAL EVIDENCE
Evidence given to explain, repel, counteract, or disprove facts given in evidence by the adverse party.
REAL PROPERTY
Land, buildings, and other improvements affixed to the land.
REASONABLE DOUBT, BEYOND A
The degree of certainty required for a juror to legally find a criminal defendant guilty
REASONABLE PERSON
A phrase used to denote a hypothetical person who exercises qualities of attention, knowledge, intelligence, and judgment that society requires of its members for the protection of his or her own interest and the interests of others.
REBUTTAL
Evidence given to explain, counteract, or disprove facts given by the opposing counsel.
RECALL
Cancellation by a court of a warrant before its execution by the arrest of a defendant; also, a process by which a retired judge may be asked to sit on a particular case.
RECIDIVISM
The continued, habitual, or compulsive commission of law violations after first having been convicted of prior offenses.
RECKLESS DRIVING
Operation of a motor vehicle that shows a reckless disregard of possible consequences and indifference of others rights.
RECOGNIZANCE
The practice which enables an accused awaiting trial to be released without posting any security other than a promise to appear before the court at the proper time.
RECORD
All the documents and evidence plus transcripts of oral proceedings in a case.
RECUSE
The process by which a judge is disqualified from hearing a case, on his or her own motion or upon the objection of either party.
RE-DIRECT EXAMINATION
Opportunity to present rebuttal evidence after one's evidence has been subjected to cross-examination.
REDRESS
To set right; to remedy; to compensate; to remove the causes of a grievance.
REFEREE
A person to whom the court refers a pending case to take testimony, hear the parties, and report to the court.
REGULATION
A rule or order prescribed for management or government.
REHEARING
Another hearing of a civil or criminal case by the same court in which the case was originally heard.
REJOINDER
Opportunity for the side that opened the case to offer limited response to evidence presented during the rebuttal by the opposing side.
RELEVANT
Evidence that helps to prove a point or issue in a case.
RELINQUISHMENT
A forsaking, abandoning, renouncing, or giving over a right.
REMAND
The act of sending a case back to the trial court and ordering the trial court to conduct limited new hearings or an entirely new trial.
REMEDY
The means by which a right is enforced or the violation of a right is prevented, redressed or compensated.
REMITTITUR
The reduction by a judge of the damages awarded by a jury.
REMOVAL
The transfer of a state case to federal court for trial; in civil cases, because the parties are from different states; in criminal and some civil cases, because there is a significant possibility that there could not be a fair trial in state court.
REPLEVIN
An action for the recovery of a possession that has been wrongfully taken.
REPLY
The response by a party to charges raised in a pleading by the other party.
REPORT
An official or formal statement of facts or proceedings.
RESPONDENT
The party who makes an answer to a bill or other proceedings in equity; also refers to the party against whom an appeal is brought. Sometimes called an appellee.
REST
A party is said to rest or rest its case when it has presented all the evidence it intends to offer.
RESTITUTION
Act of giving the equivalent for any loss, damage or injury.
RESTRAINING ORDER
A court order forbidding the defendant from doing any action or threatened action until a hearing on the application can be conducted.
RETAINER
Act of the client in employing the attorney or counsel. Also denotes the fee the client pays when he or she retains the attorney to act for him or her.
RETURN
A report to a judge by police on the implementation of an arrest or search warrant. Also, a report to a judge in reply to a subpoena, civil or criminal.
REVERSE
An action of a higher court in setting aside or revoking a lower court decision.
REVERSIBLE ERROR
A procedural error during a trial or hearing sufficiently harmful to justify reversing the judgment of a lower court.
REVOCABLE TRUST
A trust that the grantor may change or revoke.
REVOKE
To annul or make void by recalling or taking back.
RIGHTS, CONSTITUTIONAL
The rights of a person guaranteed by the state or federal constitutions.
ROBBERY
The act of taking money, personal property, or any other article of value that is in the possession of another done by means of force or fear.
RULE
An established standard, guide, or regulation.
RULE OF COURT
An order made by a court having competent jurisdiction. Rules of court are either general or special; the former are the regulations by which the practice of the court is governed, the latter are special orders made in particular cases.
RULES OF EVIDENCE
Standards governing whether evidence in a civil or criminal case is admissible.
SANCTION
A punitive act designed to secure enforcement by imposing a penalty for its violation. For example, a sanction may be imposed for failure to comply with discovery orders.
SEALING
The closure of court records to inspection, except to the parties.
SEARCH AND SEIZURE
A practice whereby a person or place is searched and evidence useful in the investigation and prosecution of a crime is seized or taken. The search is conducted after an order is issued by a judge.
SEARCH WARRANT
An order issued by a judge or magistrate commanding a sheriff, constable, or other officer to search a specified location.
SECURED DEBT
In bankruptcy proceedings, a debt is secured if the debtor gave the creditor a right to repossess the property or goods used as collateral.
SELF-DEFENSE
Claim that an act otherwise criminal was legally justifiable because it was necessary to protect a person or property from the threat or action of another.
SELF-INCRIMINATION
Acts or declarations by which one implicates oneself in a crime.
SELF-PROVING WILL
A will whose validity does not have to be testified to in court by the witnesses to it, because the witnesses executed an affidavit reflecting proper execution of the will prior to the maker's death.
SENTENCE
The judgment formally pronounced by the court or judge upon the defendant after his or her conviction by imposing a punishment to be inflicted either in the form of a fine, incarceration or probation.
SENTENCE REPORT
A document containing background material on a convicted person. It is prepared to guide the judge in the imposition of a sentence. Sometimes called a pre-sentence report.
SENTENCE, CONCURRENT
Two or more sentences of jail time to be served simultaneously.
SENTENCE, CONSECUTIVE
Two or more sentences of jail time to be served in sequence.
SENTENCE, SUSPENDED
A sentence postponed in which the defendant is not required to serve time unless he or she commits another crime or violates a court-imposed condition.
SENTENCING
The postconviction stage in which the defendant is brought before the court for imposition of sentence.
SEPARATE MAINTENANCE
Allowance ordered to be paid by one spouse to the other for support while the spouses are living apart but not divorced.
SEPARATION
An arrangement whereby a husband and wife live apart from each other while remaining married either by mutual consent or by a judicial order.
SEQUESTRATION OF WITNESSES
Keeping all witnesses (except plaintiff and defendant) out of the courtroom except for their time on the stand, and cautioning them not to discuss their testimony with other witnesses. Also called separation of witnesses. This prevents a witness from being influenced by the testimony of a prior witness.
SERVE A SENTENCE
The act of spending an allotted amount of time in a designated location such as a prison as punishment for the crime committed.
SERVICE
The delivery of a legal document, such as a complaint, summons, or subpoena, notifying a person of a lawsuit or other legal action taken against him or her. Service, which constitutes formal legal notice, must be made by an officially authorized person in accordance with the formal requirements of the applicable laws.
SERVICE OF PROCESS
Notifying a person that he or she has been named as a party to a lawsuit or has been accused of some offense. Process consists of a summons, citation or warrant, to which a copy of the complaint is attached.
SETTLEMENT
An agreement between parties that dictates what is being received from one party to the other.
SETTLOR
The person who sets up a trust. Also called the grantor.
SEXUAL MOLESTATION
Illegal sex acts performed against a minor by a parent, guardian, relative or acquaintance.
SHERIFF
Elected officer of a county whose job is to conserve peace within his or her territorial jurisdiction as well as aid in the criminal and civil court processes.
SHOPLIFTING
The willful taking and concealing of merchandise from a store or business establishment with the intention of using the goods for one's personal use without paying the purchase price.
SHOW CAUSE
An order requiring a person to appear in court and present reasons why a certain order, judgment, or decree should not be issued.
SIDEBAR
A conference between the judge and lawyers, usually in the courtroom, out of earshot of the jury and spectators.
SLANDER
False and defamatory spoken words tending to harm another's reputation, community standing, office, trade, business, or means of livelihood.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT
A county court that handles civil claims for amounts less than $5,00. People often represent themselves rather than hire an attorney.
SODOMY
Oral or anal copulation between humans, or between humans or animals.
SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY
The doctrine that the government, state or federal, is immune to lawsuit unless it gives its consent.
SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE
A remedy requiring a person who has breached a contract to perform specifically what he or she has agreed to do. Specific performance is ordered when damages would be inadequate compensation.
SPEEDY TRIAL
The right of an accused to a speedy trial as guaranteed by the 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
SPENDTHRIFT TRUST
A trust set up for the benefit of someone who the grantor believes would be incapable of managing his or her own financial affairs.
STANDARD OF PROOF
There are essentially three standards of proof applicable in most court proceedings. In criminal cases, the offense must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt , the highest standard. In civil cases and neglect and dependency proceedings, the lowest standard applies by a mere preponderance of the evidence , (more likely than not). In some civil cases, and in juvenile proceedings such as a permanent termination of parental rights, an intermediate standard applies, proof by clear and convincing evidence.
STANDING
The legal right to bring a lawsuit. Only a person with something at stake has standing to bring a lawsuit.
STATEMENT, CLOSING
The final statements by the attorneys to the jury or court summarizing the evidence that they have established and the evidence that the other side has failed to establish.
COMPOSITE DRAWING
A picture of an alleged criminal created by a professional police artist using verbal descriptionsgiven by the victim or a witness.
EN BANC
All the judges of a court sitting together. Appellate courts can consist of a dozen or more judges, but often they hear cases in panels of three judges. If a case is heard or reheard by the full court, it is heard en banc.
CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
Body of federal or state law dealing with procedural aspects of trial for criminal cases.
STATEMENT, OPENING
Outline or summary of the nature of the case and of the anticipated proof presented by the attorney to the jury before any evidence is submitted. Also known as opening argument .
STATUS OFFENDERS
Youths charged with the status of being beyond the control of their legal guardian or are habitually disobedient, truant from school, or have committed other acts that would not be a crime if committed by an adult. They are not delinquents (in that they have not committed a crime), but are rather persons in need of supervision, minors in need of supervision, or children in need of supervision, depending on the state in which they live. Status offenders are placed under
the supervision of the juvenile court.
...
STATUTE
A formal, written statement by legislature declaring, commanding, or prohibiting something.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The time within a plaintiff must begin a lawsuit (in civil cases) or a prosecutor must bring charges (in criminal cases). There are different statutes of limitations at both the federal and state levels for different kinds of lawsuits or crimes.
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION
Process by which a court seeks to interpret the meaning and scope of legislation.
STATUTORY LAW
Law enacted by the legislative branch of government, as distinguished from case law or common law .
STATUTORY RAPE
Unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18, regardless of whether they consent to the act.
STAY
The act of stopping a judicial proceeding by order of the court.
STIPULATE
An agreement by attorneys on both sides of a civil or criminal case about some aspect of the case; e.g., to extend the time to answer, to adjourn the trial date, or to admit certain facts at the trial.
STRICT LIABILITY
A concept applied by courts in product liability cases in which a seller is liable for any and all defective or hazardous products which unduly threaten a consumer's personal safety.