Legal Terms Everyone Should Know

Photo of an open book on a desk, with shelves of books in the background.

The legal system can be overwhelming, and legal jargon can make it even more confusing. When it comes to legal proceedings, it's important to be knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions. In this blog post, we'll cover the top 10 legal terms everyone should know. This will help you better understand your legal rights and obligations, ensure you receive adequate legal representation, and navigate the legal system more effectively.

1. Plaintiff and Defendant

These terms are used in a lawsuit. The plaintiff is the person who initiates the lawsuit, and the defendant is the person who is being sued. Plaintiffs often seek compensation for damages they believe the defendant has caused.

2. Burden of Proof

This term refers to the obligation of the party making an allegation to provide evidence that supports their claim. Typically, in a criminal case, the burden of proof falls on the prosecutor, while in a civil case, it falls on the plaintiff.

3. Due Process

This term is used in the context of making sure that legal proceedings are carried out fairly and without bias. It includes a defendant's right to a fair trial, the right to an attorney, and the right to present evidence.

4. Discovery

The discovery process is a pre-trial procedure in which both parties exchange information about the lawsuit. It typically involves the exchange of documents, facts, and relevant evidence.

5. Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a specific time limit in which an individual must file a lawsuit against another person or entity. Failure to file within this timeframe can result in a loss of legal rights.

6. Jurisdiction

This term refers to the court or legal system that has the power to make a legal judgment on a case. Jurisdiction can be decided by several factors, including the location of the case, the type of case, and the parties involved.

7. Precedent

A legal precedent is a decision made in a previous case that serves as a guideline for other similar cases in the future. It is often used as a reference point for judges in making future decisions.

8. Settlement

This term refers to an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant outside of court in which both parties agree on a particular outcome. This can be a quicker, less expensive way to resolve legal disputes.

9. Arbitration

Arbitration is a process in which a neutral third-party mediator is brought in to help resolve disputes. It is often used as an alternative to going to court.

10. Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus protects an imprisoned person against unlawful detention and indefinite imprisonment and ensures they cannot be imprisoned before they are first brought before a court of law.

Legal terminology can be confusing and overwhelming, but it's important to understand these terms to make informed decisions in legal proceedings. Knowing the difference between a plaintiff and a defendant, understanding the burden of proof, recognizing your right to due process, and being aware of the statute of limitations for a lawsuit can make all the difference.

Being familiar with these top 10 legal terms will help you better understand the legal system, navigate legal disputes more effectively, and ensure you are equipped to make informed decisions.

Do you have a legal problem but don’t know where to begin? Contact Brewster & De Angelis today at (918) 265-1214 or online to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team to learn more.