Dealing with lawyers, judges, our legal system and private detectives has it's own vocabulary. These are some terms you may hear.
Abandonment- Desertion by a husband or wife, of his or her spouse, with the intention of creating a permanent separation.
Abscond- To hide from the jurisdiction of a court in orderto avoid capture and legal prosecution.
Accessory- Although not the principal actor in the commission of an offense, a person who solicits, requests, commands or intentionally aids the principal actor to engage in the commission of such offense.
Accomplice-a person who knowingly helps another in a crime or wrongdoing, often as a subordinate.
Acquit-to relieve from a charge of fault or crime; declare not guilty.
Affidavit-a written declaration upon oath made before an authorized official.
Alibi-the defense by an accused person of having been elsewhere at the time an alleged offense was committed.
Appeal- A review, by a higher court, to determine whether the decision, order or verdict in the lower court should be reversed, modified or affirmed.
Arbitration-the hearing and determining of a dispute or the settling of differences between parties by a person or persons chosen or agreed to by them.
Arraignment-To call (an accused person) before a court to answer the charge made against him or her by indictment, information, or complaint.
Arson-the malicious burning of another's house or property, or in some statutes, the burning of one's own house or property, as to collect insurance.
Assault-an unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner.
Attachment-seizure of property or person by legal authority, esp. seizure of a defendant's property to prevent its dissipation before trial or to acquire jurisdiction over it.
Autopsy-inspection and dissection of a body after death, as for determination of the cause of death; postmortem examination.
Bail- To set free or liberate from arrest and imprisonment, upon security given that the person released shall appear and answer in court.
Ballistics- The examination of bullets that have been fired for the purpose of discovering from which weapon a given bullet has been fired. The science that deals with the motion of projectiles.
Bench Warrant-a warrant issued or ordered by a judge or court for the apprehension of an offender.
Blackmail- The extortion of goods, money, or the procuring of an illegal act by a threat, in writing, of criminal prosecution or the destruction of a person’s reputation or social standing or personal injury.
Bribery-The offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his or her public or legal duties.
Bug- An instrument or device used to intentionally overhear a conversation or discussion, without the consent of at least one party thereto, by a person not present thereat.
Burglary-The criminal offense of breaking and entering a building illegally for the purpose of committing a crime.
Capital Offense-any criminal charge which is punishable by the death penalty.
Circumstantial Evidence-Information and testimony presented by a party in a civil or criminal action that permit conclusions that indirectly establish the existence or nonexistence of a fact or event that the party seeks to prove.
Coercion-The intimidation of a victim to compel the individual to do some act against his or her will by the use of psychological pressure, physical force, or threats.
Confession- A statement by a person accused of a crime admitting his guilt.
Conspiracy-An agreement between two or more persons to engage jointly in an unlawful or criminal act, or an act that is innocent in itself but becomes unlawful when done by the combination of actors.
Contract- An agreement to do or not to do a certain thing.
Corpus Delicti-The foundation or material substance of a crime.
Corroborating Evidence-evidence which strengthens, adds to, or confirms already existing evidence.
Criminal Impersonation- A person who impersonates or pretends to be another, and does an act, in such assumed character, with intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another.
Criminal Trespass- To knowingly enter or remain unlawfully in or upon premises.
Deposition-The testimony of a party or witness in a civil or criminal proceeding taken before trial, usually in an attorney's office.
Direct Evidence- Evidence in form of testimony from a witness who actually saw, heard or touched the subject of interrogation.
Disorderly Conduct- Intentionally causing public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly causing a risk,conduct that disturbs the peace or endangers the morals, health, or safety of a community..
Duress-Unlawful pressure exerted upon a person to coerce that person to perform an act that he or she ordinarily would not perform.
Embezzlement-The fraudulent conversion of another's property by a person who is in a position of trust, such as an agent or employee.
Entrapment-The act of government agents or officials that induces a person to commit a crime he or she is not previously disposed to commit.
Estoppel-A legal principle that bars a party from denying or alleging a certain fact owing to that party's previous conduct, allegation, or denial.
Executor- The person named, by a testator, to carry out the provisions of his will.
Extortion- Taking or obtaining property from another with his consent, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear.
Extradition-The transfer of an accused from one state or country to another state or country that seeks to place the accused on trial.
Felony-A serious crime, characterized under federal law and many state statutes as any offense punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year.
Fiduciary- A person who on behalf of or for the benefit of another transacts business or handles money or property not the person’s own; such relationship implies great confidence and trust.
Forgery-The creation of a false written document or alteration of a genuine one, with the intent to defraud.
Garnishment-A legal procedure by which a creditor can collect what a debtor owes by reaching the debtor's property when it is in the hands of someone other than the debtor.
General Release- A formal document made out by individual certifying that he has no further cause for action against another.
Grand Jury-A panel of citizens that is convened by a court to decide whether it is appropriate for the government to indict (proceed with a prosecution against) someone suspected of a crime.
Grand Larceny-The offense of illegally taking the property of another—in which the value of the property taken is greater than that set for petit larceny.
Habeas Corpus-A court order that commands an individual or a government official who has restrained another to produce the prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody and decide whether to order the prisoner's release.
Harassment-The act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands.
Hearsay Evidence- An out of court statement, offered in court for its truth.
Homicide- The killing of one human being by the act or omission of another human being.
Indictment- The accusation in writing, presented by the Grand Jury, to a superior court charging a person with a crime.
Injunction- A writ or order issued by a court or judge, requiring a person to refrain from a particular act.
Inquest- An official hearing to determine the cause of death of a human being.
Intestate- A person who dies without having a valid will or testament.
Ipso Facto- By the mere effect of an act or a fact.
Irrevocable Consent- A written consent by a non-resident individual or nonresident/foreign partnership or corporation, submitting to the jurisdiction of the courts of New York State, designating the Secretary of the State of New York as the agent upon whom may be served any summons, subpoena or other process, in any action, commenced in the State of New York.
Jostling- Unnecessarily crowding against a person with the intent to place a hand in the proximity of such person’s pocket, pocketbook or handbag.
Judgment-A decision by a court or other tribunal that resolves a controversy and determines the rights and obligations of the parties.
Jump Bail-To fail to appear for a court appearance after posting bail with the intention of avoiding prosecution, sentencing or going to jail.
Jurat-The certificate of an officer that a written instrument was sworn to by the individual who signed it.
Jury Tampering-The crime of attempting to influence a jury through any means other than presenting evidence and argument in court, including conversations about the case outside the court, offering bribes, making threats, or asking acquaintances to intercede with a juror.
Laches-A defense to an equitable action, that bars recovery by the plaintiff because of the plaintiff's undue delay in seeking relief.
Levy- Taking possession of property by an official to satisfy a judgment.
Libel- A written defamatory statement that is injurious to the reputation of another.
Lien-A legal right given to another by the owner of property to secure a debt, or one created by law in favor of certain creditors.
Lis Pendens-A reference to the jurisdiction (or control) that courts obtain over property in a suit awaiting action.
Malingering-To feign illness or other incapacity in order to avoid duty or work.
Mandamus-a writ from a superior court to an inferior court or to an officer, corporation, etc., commanding that a specified thing be done.
Manslaughter-The unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice.
Misdemeanor- Offenses lower than felonies and generally those punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or imprisonment other than in a penitentiary.
Modus Operandi-A term used by law enforcement authorities to describe the particular manner in which a crime is committed.
Moral Turpitude- A phrase used in Criminal Law to describe conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals.
Negligence Actions- The general class of civil suits arising from the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care.
Ordinance- A law enacted by the legislative body of a municipality.
Parole-The conditional release of a person convicted of a crime prior to the expiration of that person's term of imprisonment, subject to both the supervision of the correctional authorities during the remainder of the term and a resumption of the imprisonment upon violation of the conditions imposed.
Peremptory Challenge- The right of the defendant and the prosecution in a criminal trial to offer objection to a certain number of jurors without giving any explanation.
Perjury- The act of willfully swearing falsely.
Petit Jury- The ordinary jury of men or woman for the trial of a civil or criminal action.
Petit Larceny-The theft of objectswhich is valued at less than $1,000.00.
Physical Evidence- Anything that may be found, by investigators, to have a connection with a crime (for example; an article of clothing worn by the victim).
Plaintiff- A person who brings a civil action against another.
Pleadings- The formal allegations made by the parties of their respective claims and defenses for the judgment of the court.
Police Power-The power of a nation, within the limits of its constitution, to regulate the conduct of its citizens in the interest of the common good.
Prima Facie- So far as can be judged from the first appearance or at first sight.
Probate- Theofficial proving of a will as authentic or valid in a probate court.
Probation-A sentence whereby a convict is released from confinement but is still under court supervision; a testing or a trial period. Probation can be given in lieu of a prison term or can suspend a prison sentence if the convict has consistently demonstrated good behavior.
Referee- A person to whom a court action is referred, to take testimony, hear the parties and report thereon to the court.
Relevant-Having some reasonable connection with, and in regard to evidence in trial, having some value or tendency to prove a matter of fact significant to the case.
Reprieve-The suspension of the execution of the death penalty for a period of time.
Res Gestae-Secondhand statements considered trustworthy for the purpose of admission as evidence in a lawsuit when repeated by a witness because they were made spontaneously and concurrently with an event.
Robbery-The taking of money or goods in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, by force or intimidation.
Rough Shadowing- Shadowing which is done in such a manner as to cause the subject discomfort or annoyance, or interferes with him in any way.
Search Warrant- A written order, issued by a court, for the search of a designated premises, vehicle, or person for evidence of the commission of a crime.
Sentence- A judgment passed by a court on a person on trial as a criminal offender.
Shadowing-The act of following someone secretly.
Statute of Limitations- A law which limits the time within which a criminal prosecution or a civil action must be started.
Subpoena -A formal document that orders a named individual to appear before a duly authorized body at a fixed time to give testimony.
Subpoena Duces Tecum-The judicial process used to command the production before a court of papers, documents, or other tangible items of evidence.
Subornation of Perjury-The criminal offense of procuring another to commit perjury, which is the crime of lying, in a material matter, while under oath.
Subrogation-to substitute (one person) for another with reference to a claim or right.
Summary Proceedings- An action by which a case or controversy is settled, in a prompt and simple manner without the aid of a jury, presentation of facts or indictment.
Summons-The paper that tells a defendant that he or she is being sued and asserts the power of the court to hear and determine the case.
Surveillance-Observing or listening to persons, places, or activities—usually in a secretive or unobtrusive manner—with the aid of electronic devices such as cameras, microphones, tape recorders, or wire taps.
Tail- An unobserved close watch.
Testator-One who has made a legally valid will before death.
Testimony-The statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court.
Tort- A wrongful act, wrong, injury; violation of a legal right.
Trespass-An unlawful act causing injury to the person, property, or rights of another, committed with force or violence, actual or implied.
True Bill- A term endorsed on an indictment to indicate that a majority of Grand Jury members found that the evidence presented to them was adequate to justify a prosecution.
Turpitude-Conduct that is unjust, depraved, or shameful; that which is contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals.
Venue- The neighborhood, place or county in which an injury is declared to have been done, or fact declared to have happened.
Warrant-A written order issued by a judicial officer or other authorized person commanding a law enforcement officer to perform some act incident to the administration of justice
Writ-An order issued by a court requiring that something be done or giving authority to do a specified act.
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