Accomplice
A partner in a crime. A person who knowingly and voluntarily participates with another in a criminal activity.
Acquit
To find a defendant not guilty in a criminal trial.
Action
Case, cause, suit, or controversy disputed or contested before a court of justice.
Affidavit
A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths. For example, in criminal cases, affidavits are often used by police officers seeking to convince courts to grant a warrant to make an arrest or a search. In civil cases, affidavits of witnesses are often used to support motions for summary judgments.
Appeal
A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal". One who appeals is called the appellant.
Arbitration
A form of alterative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party and agree to abide by his or her decision. In arbitration there is a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard.
Arrest
To take into custody by legal authority.
Bail
Money or other security (such as a bail bond) provided to the court to temporarily allow a person's release from jail and assure their appearance in court. "Bail" and "bond" are often used interchangeably.
Bail Bond
An obligation signed by the accused to secure his or her presence at the trial. This obligation means that the accused may lose money by not properly appearing for the trial. Often referred to simply as bond.
Bailiff
A court attendant who keeps order in the courtroom and has custody of the jury.
Bench Warrant
An order issued by a judge for the arrest of a person.
Charge to the jury
The judge's instructions to the jury concerning the law that applies to the facts of the case on trial.
Conviction
A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.
Counterclaim
A claim made by the defendant in a civil lawsuit against the plaintiff. In essence, a counter lawsuit within a lawsuit.
Court Costs
The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit, other than the attorneys fees. An amount of money may be awarded to the successful party (and may be recoverable from the losing party) as reimbursement for court costs.
Cross-Claim
A claim by co-defendant or co-plaintiffs against each other and not against persons on the opposite side of the lawsuit.
Debt
An obligation or liability to pay or render something to another
Debtor
One who owes something to another.
Default
A failure to respond to a lawsuit within the specified time.
Defendandt
A person who a legal action is brought against. In a Civil Case, this would be the person BEING sued. In a Criminal Case, this would be the person being accused of a crime or citation.
Dismissal
The termination of a lawsuit. A dismissal without prejudice allows a lawsuit to be brought before the court again at a later time. In contrast, a dismissal with prejudice prevents the lawsuit from being brought before a court in the future.
Docket
A log containing brief entries of court proceedings.
Escrow
Money or a written instrument such as a deed that, be agreement between two parties, is held by a neutral third party (held in escrow) until all conditions of the agreement are met.
Eviction
To expel or put out (a tenant) by legal process.
Evidence
Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (jury or judge) to decide the case for one side or the other.
Expungement
Official and formal erasure of a record or partial contents of a record.
Felony
A crime of a graver nature than a misdemeanor, usually punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary for more than a year and/or substantial fines.
Garnishee
A third party who has been warned that money or property in his or her control but due or belonging to a defendant has been attached. (ie. Banks, employers)
Garnishment
A legal proceeding where money or property due or belonging to a debtor but in the possession of another is applied to the payment of the debt to the plaintiff.
Grand Jury
A body of persons sworn to inquire into crime and if appropriate, bring accusations (indictments) against the suspected criminals.
Incarcerate
To confine in jail.
Indictment
A written accusation by a grand jury charging a person with a crime.
Indigent
Needy or impoverished. A defendant who can demonstrate his or her indigence to the court may be assigned a court appointed attorney at public expense.
Judge
An elected or appointed public official with authority to hear and decide cases in a court of law. A Judge Pro Tem is a temporary judge.
Judgement
A determination of a court of law. A court act creating or affirming an obligation, as a debt.
Juristiction
The territorial range over which an authority extends.
Lien
A legal claim against another person's property as security for a debt. A lien does not convey ownership of the property, but gives the lien holder a right to have his or her debt satisfied out of the proceeds of the property if the debt is not otherwise paid.
Magistrate
Judicial officer exercising some of the functions of a judge. It also refers in a general way to a judge.
Misdemeanor
A criminal offense considered less serious than a felony. Misdemeanors generally are punishable by a fine or a limited local jail term, but not by imprisonment in a state penitentiary.
Motion
Oral or written request made by a party to an action before, during, or after a trial, upon which a court issues a ruling or order.
Order
A written or oral command from a court directing or forbidding an action.
Parole
The supervised conditional release of a prisoner before the expiration of his or her sentence. If the parolee observes the conditions, he or she need not serve the rest of his or her term.
Plaintiff
The party that institutes a suit in a court.
Plea
In a criminal proceeding, it is the defendant's declaration in open court that he or she is guilty or not guilty. The defendant's answer to the charges made in the indictment or information.
Pro Se
A Latin term meaning "on one's own behalf"; in courts, it refers to persons who present their own cases without lawyers.
Probation
An alternative to imprisonment allowing a person found guilty of an offence to stay in the community, usually under conditions and under the supervision of a probation officer. A violation of probation can lead to its revocation and to imprisonment.
Prosecutor
A trial lawyer representing the government in a criminal case and the interest of the state in civil matters. In criminal cases, the prosecutor has the responsibility of deciding who and when to prosecute.
Quash
To vacate or void a summons, subpoena, etc.
Replevin
An action for the recovery of a possession that has been wrongfully taken.
Small Claims Court
A court established for the simplified and efficient handling or small claims on debts.
Statute of Limitations
Setting a time limit on legal action in certain cases.
Subpoena
A court order compelling a witness to appear and testify.
Subpoena Duces Tecum
A court order commanding a witness to bring certain documents or records to court.
Sue
To institute a lawsuit againt another person/company
Summons
A notice issued to a person summoning him or her to report to court.
Surety Bond
A bond purchased at the defendant's expense to insure his or hers appearance at all court dates. The Surety Bond is purchased from a surety bail bond agent. The law prohibits the clerk from accepting the registration of a surety bond unless the agent is currently licensed with the State of Ohio, Department of Insurance, and is appointed by power of attorney from each insurer that the agent represents.
Warrant
Most commonly, a court order authorizing law enforcement officers to make an arrest or conduct a search. An affidavit seeking a warrant must establish probable cause by detailing the facts upon which the request is based.