Law terminology can quickly become overwhelming and jargony. I have a few friends who are attorneys, and whenever they get to chatting about their practices and cases, I always have found my head spinning, nauseous on their raging sea of legal terms. After one night of feeling particularly dizzy amid their conversation (I think it was the legal terminology that made me feel so, although it could have been the scotch), I decided I would do some research of my own, and surprise them with my intelligent contributions to their conversation next time.
I started, as most internet research starts, at Google. Upon conducting a search for “law terminology”, I was taken aback by how many sources there were with lists of law terms available for free. The lesson I learned is to, in this day and age, never just accept ignorance when anything I could ever hope to know is merely a click away.
I decided to take notes on all of the law terminology that I had heard my friends using, so the next time these exclusive dialogues took place, I could catch them off guard with an informed opinion stated in their language of preference. Here are some of the key words used in the legal system…
1. Alimony. This is money that one spouse is made to pay another spouse by the court of law after a divorce is heard.
2. Financial Affidavit. This is a piece of law terminology used to signify a sworn statement of income, expenses, properties, and debts made under oath.
3. Litigant. This is a party to a case.
4. Nolo Contendere. Law terminology is frequently comprised of Latin words. This Latin phrase translates into “no contest.” This is a plea a defendant is able to make which allows the supposed criminal to be committed as guilty without actually admitting guilt on the record.
5. Pro Se. This Latin phrase translates into “yourself” and means that one is representing themselves in any kind of case.
6. Seal. This example of law terminology is used when a case is closed off from the public. No media, or general public attendance is permitted.
7. Statute of Limitations. Law terminology that sets a certain time limit on a case. Contract cases, for example generally have a statute of limitations of six years.
8. Unconditional Discharge. This is when a defendant is released without imprisonment, probation, supervision, or any conditions.
9. Voire Dire. Another word in the sprawling list of Latin law terminology that basically means “to speak the truth.” Legally speaking, this is the process of questioning potential jurors or witnesses about their unique qualifications.
10. Writ. This is the law terminology used to speak of the legal paper which is filed to start various types of civil cases.