Abstract of title – A chronological summary of all recorded documents affecting title.
Adjudication – The act of pronouncing a judgment or decree.
Arbitration – The hearing of a dispute by an impartial third party, whose decision has been mutually agreed upon to accept.
Arraignment – A hearing wherein the accused is brought before the court to plead to a charge in an indictment.
Bail Bond – Money or other security provided to the court to temporarily allow a person’s release from jail and assure their appearance in court.
Bench Trial – Trial in which a judge rules on the facts without a jury.
Bench warrant – A judge-ordered warrant for the arrest of a person.
Booking – The process of fingerprinting, photographing, and recording details of a suspect following an arrest.
Capital Crime – Any crime punishable by death.
Commutation – The reduction of a sentence.
Consideration – The price paid for a service, product, or real estate.
Continuance – Moving a legal proceeding to a later time or date.
Contract -A binding agreement, made either oral or in writing.
Conveyance – Instrument transferring title of land from one to another.
Default Judgment – Ruling against any party failing to appear in court.
Demurrer – A pleading filed by the defendant that a complaint is insufficient to require a reply.
Deposition – Testimony of a witness transcribed outside the courtroom.
Docket – A listing of all pleadings filed in a case.
Double Jeopardy – Trial more than once for the same crime is forbidden by the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Eminent Domain – The power of the government to seize private property.
Entrapment – The enticement to commit a crime with the intention of filing criminal charges.
Escheat – The process by which a deceased person’s property goes to the state if no heir is found.
Felony – A major criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment for at least one year or by death.
Hearing – A proceeding typically less formal than a trial.
Hearsay – Witness statements that are third person accounts, therefore inadmissible in court.
Implied Contract – A contract inferred by usage.
Indictment – A written accusation by a court, charging a person with a crime.
Indigent – Financially challenged and therefore eligible to have an appointed public defender.
Injunction – A court order forbidding a party to perform an act.
Joint Tenancy – A type of ownership of real property where surviving co-owners obtain the deceased owners share of the property.
Larceny – Obtaining property by fraud.
Lien – An encumbrance on real property restricting its transference.
Mediation – A form of dispute resolution in which all parties agree to bring their dispute to a neutral 3rd party, whose decision they all agree to accept.
Misdemeanor – A criminal offense typically punishable by fine or by imprisonment in other than a state penitentiary and less than 1 year.
Mitigating Circumstances – Circumstances that may be considered that explain and therefore reduce the degree of guilt.
Mitigation – The reduction of a penalty.
Negligence – The failure to use care in a situation where a reasonable and prudent person would.
Order – A mandate, command, or ruling typically given by a judge.
Peremptory Challenge – Request that a judge disallow a prospective juror as a jury member.
Pretrial Conference – Called by the court to narrow the issues and as a last effort to avoid trial.
Prima Facie Case – Meets minimum requirement of evidence necessary to allow the continuation through the legal process.
Probation – An alternative to imprisonment.
Proximate Cause – A negligent act which contributes to injury. Liability ascertained if an injury was proximately caused by action or by failure to act when there existed a duty to act.
Punitive Damages – Money awarded to a victim.
Quiet Title Action – A proceeding to remove a cloud on a title to real property.
Quitclaim Deed – A deed without title which passes whatever title the grantor may have.
Real Property – Land, plus whatever is permanently attached to the land, such as buildings.
Reasonable Doubt – An accused party is innocent if a judge or jury cannot prove beyond a doubt that the party is guilty of any or all charges.
Remittitur – The reduction by a judge of the damages awarded by a jury in a civil case.
Rescission – The repeal, or undoing of a contract.
Sequester – The separation of the jury from outside influences during deliberations.
Sidebar – A private, in-the-courtroom conference between the judge and lawyers, out of earshot of the jury and spectators.
Subpoena – A court command to appear and bear witness in a case.
Summary Judgment – A judgment given without trial as guilt is unquestionable.
Unilateral Contract – An agreement by multiple parties in which one party performs without any expectation of performance from any other party.
Usury – The charging of interest on a loan above the maximum rate permitted by law.
Verdict – A judgment by the court based on fact and law.
Voidable – Potentially invalid upon being declared so.
Warrant – A court order authorizing an arrest, search and/or seizure. An warrant application must be accompanied by an affidavit that establishes probable cause.
Warranty Deed – Guarantees that the title conveyed is clear and its transfer legal.
With Prejudice – A declaration in which all rights and privileges are dismissed. Bars the right to bring or maintain an action on the same claim.
Without Prejudice – A statement that no rights or privileges are waived or lost. In a dismissal, these words indicate the right to bring a subsequent suit on the same claim.
Writ – A judicial order directing a person to do something.