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Basic Legal Jargon: Learn It All Here

basic legal jargon

So we’ve covered plausible deniability, reasonable doubt, habeas corpus, and mens rea. But there’s plenty more basic legal jargon to cover! However, not all of it deserves its own post. So let’s knock out some of the more basic ones, shall we? In this week’s post, we’ll cover terms like plaintiff, defendant, motion, ruling, and more!

Basic Legal Jargon

First, let’s list and define the terms.

  • Affidavit – a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court. Therefore, it’s considered legally binding. Someone can be tried for perjury if they lie in an affidavit.
  • Appeal –  when a group in a court case asks a higher court to review a judge’s decision from a lower court. For example, if someone believes their rights were mishandled, they can appeal to higher courts in their state or region, as high as the US Supreme Court. Accordingly, it becomes a federal case.
  • Bench – the place where the judges sit. “Approach the bench” means “Go up to the judge.” Long ago, judges sat on benches to make their decisions.
  • Civil Case – in contrast to a criminal case, a civil case does not involve criminal charges. For instance, a divorce trial is a civil case.
  • Custody – Legal custody means that the courts have granted possession of an item or child to a specific person; physical custody refers to the actual physical location of the item or child.
  • Defendant – the person being sued or the person the case is against. For example, in a criminal trial, the accused person is the defendant.
  • Motion – a request made by either the defendant or plaintiff, requesting the court to rule or take action on their behalf.
  • Plaintiff – the person who begins a case in court. In criminal cases, this is often the state. In civil cases, this is often the person filing the complaint.
  • Rule/Ruling – the decision the judge makes.

What You Can Expect at Catanzaro Law

Second, now that you have a firm grasp on some basic legal jargon, check out our other blogs on terms like these. Furthermore, be sure to come back in the near future as we’ll take special looks at terms like objection and contempt. Catanzaro Law wants to be your one stop shop for everything you need to know about basic legal jargon.

Mark Catanzaro Knows All the Basic Legal Jargon

Finally, if you’re looking for an attorney for your case, look no further than Mark Catanzaro. He knows the laws in and out, so he’s the right guy for you. Contact his offices today!


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