Sitting in a courtroom or going through any type of legal process can be extremely overwhelming, especially when you aren’t able to understand the conversations happening around you. Your attorney will be able to help you understand the ins and outs of your trial, but this guide of common legal terms will give you a head start.
Arraignment – The procedure that takes place in a courtroom, in front of a judge, where one is read exactly what crime they’ve been charged with and are given the opportunity to enter their initial plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Damages – Damages are awarded to someone who has suffered an injury or loss as a result of an action by another party. There are many forms of damages, including economic, physical, and emotional. Compensatory damages are recovered for injury or economic loss, whereas punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant for his or her actions, such as negligence.
Diligence – Diligence is defined as the reasonable care or attention to a matter expected of the average responsible person under similar conditions. This means that in cases of an accidental fire, for example, you can be expected to call for other survivors and to contact the authorities, but you won’t be expected to barge in like a trained firefighter.
Dismissal – A dismissal is the act of voluntarily terminating a criminal prosecution or a lawsuit or one of its causes of action by one of the parties or a judge’s ruling that a lawsuit or criminal charge is terminated.
Due Process – Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it.
Motion – A motion is an application to the court made by the prosecutor or defense attorney, requesting that the court make a decision on a certain issue before the trial begins. The most common motions are: Motion to Dismiss – an attempt to get the judge to dismiss a charge or the case; Motion to Suppress – an attempt to keep certain statements or evidence from being introduced as evidence; and Motion for Change of Venue – may be made for various reasons including pre-trial publicity.
Plea – A plea is the response by an accused defendant to each charge of the commission of a crime. Pleas normally are not guilty, guilty, no contest, or not guilty by reason of insanity. Pleas are entered orally during an arraignment.
Testify – When someone testifies in a court of law, they are giving a statement of what they saw someone do or what they know of a situation, after having promised to tell the truth as they are legally under oath.
If you, or a loved one, are charged with a crime, now is the time to contact an attorney instead of brushing up on your legal definitions. Consider hiring an experienced attorney to handle the process on your behalf. For a free consultation with our team, contact us today. You can reach us via phone at 570-346-2600.
Legal Terms Every Law Student Should Know