DEFINITIONS

Legal Terminology Explained 

AKA: "Also known as". Used to list aliases or another name, or another spelling of a name used by a person.

Accelerated Rehabilitation: Also called AR. A program that gives persons charged with a crime or motor vehicle violation for the first time a second chance. The person is placed on probation for up to two years. If probation is completed satisfactorily, the charges are dismissed.

Acknowledgement: The signature of a clerk or attorney certifying that the person filing the document has sworn that the contents are true, and/or that the document is signed by his or her free act and deed.

Action: Also called a case or lawsuit. A civil judicial proceeding where one party sues another for a wrong done, or to protect a right or to prevent a wrong.

Adjournment: Postponement of a court session until another time or place.

Adjudication: A decision or sentence imposed by a judge.

Adjudicatory Hearing: Juvenile court proceeding to determine whether the allegations made in a petition are true and whether the child/youth should be subject to orders of the court.

Adult Court Transfer: The transfer of juveniles who are at least fourteen years old to regular criminal dockets in Geographical Area or Judicial District courts. Also involves the transfer from a Juvenile Detention Center to the State Department of Correction.

Adult Probation: A legal status, applied to people 16 years of age and older, who have been convicted of a crime and placed under the supervision of a probation officer for a period of time set by the court.

Affirmation: Declaring something to be true under the penalty of perjury by a person who will not take an oath for religious or other reasons.

Affidavit: A written statement made under oath.

Alcohol Education Program: A pre-trial program for first time offenders charged with driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Alford Doctrine: A plea in a criminal case in which the defendant does not admit guilt, but agrees that the state has enough evidence against him or her to get a conviction. Allows the defendant to enter into a plea bargain with the state. If the judge accepts the Alford Plea, a guilty finding is made on the record.

Alimony: Money a court requires one spouse to pay the other spouse for support before and/or after the divorce is granted. If you do not ask for alimony at the final hearing, you can never get it in the future.

Allegation: Saying that something is true. The assertion, declaration or statement of a party in a case, made in a pleading.

Alternate Juror: A juror selected as a substitute in case another juror must leave the jury panel.

Alternative Detention Program: Programs operated by service providers under the Office of Alternative Sanctions used to detain juveniles instead of in a Juvenile Detention Center.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Also called ADR. Any method used to resolve disputes other than traditional trial proceedings. For example, mediation. ADR programs speed up the disposition of civil cases.

Alternative Incarceration Centre: Also called AIC. A community based program that provides monitoring, supervision and services to people who would otherwise be incarcerated.

Alternative Sanctions: Criminal punishment that is less restrictive than incarceration.

Amicus Curiae brief: A Latin term meaning “friend of the court.” An Amicus Curiae brief is filed by someone who is not a party to a case but has an interest in its outcome. A person who wants to file an amicus curiae brief usually has to get the court’s permission to do so.

Annulment: A court order declaring that a marriage is invalid.

Answer: A court document, or pleading, in a civil case, by which the defendant responds to the plaintiff's complaint.

Appeal: Asking a higher court to review the decision or sentence of a trial court because the lower court made an error.

Appeal Bond: Money paid to the court while taking an appeal to cover costs and damages to the other party, if the appeal is not successful.

Appearance: The official court form filed with the court clerk which tells the court that you are representing yourself in a lawsuit or criminal case or that an attorney is representing you. All court notices and calendars will be mailed to the address listed on the form. When a defendant in a civil case files an appearance, the person is submitting to the court’s jurisdiction.

Appellant: The party appealing a decision or judgment to a higher court.

Appellee: The party against whom an appeal is taken.

Arbitration: Submitting a case or dispute to designated parties for a decision, instead of using a judge.

Arraignment: The first court appearance of a person accused of a crime. The person is advised of his or her rights by a judge and may respond to the criminal charges by entering a plea. Usually happens the morning after a person is arrested.

Arrest: When a person is taken into custody by a police officer and charged with a crime.

Arrearages: Money for alimony and/or child support, which is overdue and unpaid.

Assignment List: A printed list of cases to be presented to the court for hearing.

Assistant Attorney General: An attorney who represents a state agency in civil cases.

Attachment: A lien on property or assets to hold it to pay or satisfy any final judgment.

Attorney of Record: Attorney whose name appears in the permanent records or files of a case.

Automatic Orders: Court orders that take effect when a divorce or custody case is started.