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Legal Primer

AFFIDAVIT:  A writing or statement made under oath declaring its truth. 

ARRAIGNMENT: The court proceeding in a criminal matter in which a court charges the defendant with his alleged crime. 

BAIL: A fee paid to a bond company which allows the defendant to wait for his trial date outside of a jail. 

CITATION: A court order requiring an individual to appear at a court proceeding. 

DAMAGES: Compensation to be paid to a plaintiff or victim to compensate them for the legal wrong done to them in order to satisfy a judgment against the defendant.

DEFAULT JUDGMENT: A verdict entered against another party in their absence partly as a result of their failure to defend the suit. In some cases, the party defaulted against can successfully overturn such judgment against them. 

FELONY: A crime which carries penalties higher than a misdemeanor. 

MISDEMEANOR: A criminal offense usually punishable by fine or up to 90 days in jail. Gross misdemeanors can be punished by up to 1 year in jail, up to $5,000 in fines or both.

MOTION: A written request to the court to resolve a particular issue related to a matter already initiated with the court. 

PETITION: A formal request made to the court to take an action on a matter. 

PLEA: A defendant's reply to the charges brought against him in a criminal matter. 

RESTITUTION:  A defendant's act of providing something to a victim in order to remedy the wrong done to the victim. 

SETTLEMENT: The resolution of a legal matter which was resolved by negotiation between the parties involved.

SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE: A meeting between the parties in a law suit to attempt to resolve the matter without the need for a court proceeding. 

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: The time period after a legal wrong, for which state statute allows a plaintiff to bring a legal action against another. 

SUBPOENA: A court order requiring your attentandance to testify in a court related proceeding or requiring you to produce evidence for a legal matter. 

SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT: A court document initiating a legal action against another party. The person who receives it must reply within the stated time in order to reserve their right to defend in the suit. If you do not address particular matters in your reply you can loose the opportunity to argue them later.

TORT: A civil matter. An injury or wrong meriting legal action as a result of harm done to another which resulted in legal damages.

WILL: A statement ordering distribution of one's assets which takes legal force upon death

*Note: This primer is not meant to be legal advice and the reader has not established an attorney-client relationship with the writer as a result of reading or considering it's contents. 

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