Throughout your life, you have probably heard a few common legal terms thrown about in conversation. You may have also heard these words used in the news, during your favorite television shows, or even while watching a movie. Understanding legal jargon can be difficult if you do not hear it all of the time. We want you to understand some of the top legal terms you may hear, so you can be prepared to talk about them if you need to.
Top Legal Terms Explained
An affidavit is a sworn statement that is written down and presented as evidence in court.
When a person files an appeal, they are asking a higher court to review the decision that was made in a lower court.
A defendant is a person the legal action is being brought against. The legal action can be brought by any individual, police officer, or another authority figure.
Eminent domain is used when the government uses its power to take private property for public use. Most of the time, money is paid to property owners to compensate for the loss of land.
An expert witness will have specialized knowledge in specific areas. The opinion of expert witnesses can be helpful when the courts are trying to reach a decision. Some expert witnesses are pathologists, scientists, doctors, and engineers.
When an injunction is filed, the court is ordering a person to either do something or stop doing something.
When multiple people own a property, they all own a specific amount. However, when one of those owners passes away, their share cannot be given to their heirs through a will. Instead, their portion of the property is split between the remaining owners.
Lasting Power of Attorney
Anyone over the age of 21 can create a legal document that lists another person to act on their behalf if they are unable to make decisions. This document is called a lasting power of attorney.
Murder vs Manslaughter
Many people think that murder and manslaughter are the same things. Both terms mean that a person was killed. However, manslaughter is more of an in-the-moment cause of death, while murder is planned. This is why murder charges can carry harsher sentences than manslaughter charges.
The plaintiff is the person, or group, who brings legal action against the defendant.
A subpoena is sent to a person telling them they must appear in court at a specific time on a specific day. You may also hear a subpoena referred to as a summons to produce or a summons to witness. Failure to appear in court can result in fines or being held in contempt of court.
Owning property with others as part of tenancy-in-common is much different than the joint tenancy we mentioned above. In this scenario, when a person dies, their portion of the property can be left to their heirs in their will.
Witnesses can be called to present their side of the story in court. These witnesses may have seen or heard something relevant to the case. They are not considered expert witnesses, but their presence and testimony can be helpful in the final ruling. Any witness can be questioned by both the prosecutor and defense lawyer.
These are the top legal terms you will probably hear the most in your lifetime. Of course, depending on your situation, you may hear others. If you are currently in need of legal advice or want to have some legal documents drawn up, contact our office today.