Legal Definitions

In the legal world, there is plenty of jargon that may seem confusing. We’re here to help you get the best understanding of all the essential legal terms. Keep reading to find the clear meaning of these legal terms. 

Acquittal – A verdict delivered by a jury that finds a defendant not guilty of their charges. This is through finding the defendant guilty or judging that the evidence is not sufficient to support a conviction. 

Affidavit – A written or printed statement that is made under oath. 

Bankruptcy – The legal proceedings involved to resolve the debt of a business or individual, when they are unable to pay outstanding debts. The process usually begins with a petition field from the debtor, but it can also be filed from the creditors. 

Burden of Proof –  The requirement to prove disputed facts. For civil cases this burden of proving a case rests with the plaintiff, whereas in criminal cases the government has the burden of providing the guilt of the defendant. For criminal cases, the burden of proof must usually be beyond reasonable doubt. 

Case Law – This is the establishment of a precedent from a previous ruling. A case law can also be referred to as a legal precedent. 

Contract – A contract is an agreement between two parties that creates a legally binding obligation to take certain actions. There are mutual obligations involved which must be adhered to. 

Deposition – A deposition is an oral statement that is made to an officer, and it is administered under oath. This statement can be used in court for examining witnesses or for providing discovery. 

Indictment – An indictment is a formal accusation for a criminal case. It is presented by a grand jury and is usually required for felonies. 

Lawsuit – A lawsuit is a legal action that is created by a plaintiff against a defendant. It is done when a plaintiff takes action for when they believe that harm has been caused as a result of the defendant failing to perform their obligations for a legal duty. 

Summons – A summons is an official notice of a lawsuit that is directly handed to a person who is being sued. The defendant is ‘served’ with a summons that makes them aware of the action, and provides them with the ability to defend themselves in court. 

Subpoena – A subpoena is an official court order that provides a mandate for an individual to complete a certain action. It can be used to make them come to court, go to a deposition, or to provide evidence. A subpoena must be directly served to the individual. 

Plaintiff – A plaintiff is an individual who begins the process of court action against the defendant that is seeking damages. The plaintiff can also be referred to as the petitioner. 

Tortfeasor – A tortfeasor is an individual that commits a wrongful act that leads to the injury of someone else. Additionally, the law provides a legal right for the injured individual to claim remedies for the damages they have suffered. A tortfeasor is said to have committed a civil offence rather than a criminal offence. 

You will now have a much better understanding of the key legal definitions. All of these terms are fairly common, and you are likely to come across quite a few when dealing with legal issues.

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