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Glossary of Legal Terms & Definitions

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  • Acquittal
      An acquittal is a jury’s verdict that a criminal defendant is found not guilty, or the finding of a judge that the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction, thus dismissing the criminal case completely.  
  • Adjudication
      An adjudication is the final binding decision by a judge or other trier of fact after they have heard the opposing party’s arguments, which determines each parties rights and obligations.  
  • Administrative Agency
      An administrative agency is a branch of the federal or state government that administers and enforces laws pertaining to specific areas, such as the IRS with taxes.  
  • Admiralty Law
      Admiralty law is the collection of regulations and laws that oversee the transportation of persons or property by sea.  
  • Admissible
      Admissible refers to evidence that a judge or jury may consider at trial in civil and criminal cases because it is deemed reliable and relevant to resolving the issue.  
  • Affidavit
      An affidavit is a voluntary written or printed statement of fact confirmed by the person making it, either by notarization or administered by an authorized officer of the court.  
  • Affirmed
      A judgment is affirmed when a party appeals an adjudication to an appellate court and it determines the judgment was correctly made.  
  • Alimony
      Alimony is the financial obligation one spouse must pay to the other to help support them after a divorce or separation.  
  • Allegation
      An allegation is a party’s statement of what they think happened and what they hope to prove moving forward in a case.  
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
      Alternative dispute resolution is when the parties to a dispute can resolve the problem without having to appear for a trial in front of a judge or jury. The most common methods are mediation and arbitration.  
  • Amicus Curiae
      An amicus curiae is a party not directly involved in a case that may provide information or evidence to the court to help clear up a matter of law or inform the court of their position on the matter. In Latin amicus curiae means “a friend of the court.”  
  • Annulment
      An annulment is a determination by the court that at the time of marriage there was some issue or error preventing a legal marriage from being established, thus the parties were never legally married.  
  • Answer
      Refers to the written response of a person being accused in a civil case admitting or denying the allegations made against them and providing any defenses they may have.  
  • Antenuptial
      An antenuptial, also known as a prenup, is an agreement made before marriage which indicates how each party would like to divide property or assets if they divorce or one party dies. Do not confuse this with a will or trust, which is an agreement made during marriage on how property or(...)
  • Appeal
      An appeal is a request made by a party who disagrees with the final ruling after trial and wants a supervisory court to review the trial to overturn the decision.  
  • Appearance
      An appearance is when a party consents to the court’s jurisdiction by appearing in the case either on their own behalf or through an attorney to make their case.  
  • Appellate court
      An appellate court reviews the procedure and judgment of a lower court when a party appeals the final decision.   
  • Arbitration
      An arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution where an arbitrator will act like a judge, hear both sides of the dispute and make a decision. There are two forms of arbitration: binding voluntary arbitration (cannot appeal decision) and mandatory non-binding arbitration (can(...)
  • Arbitrator
      An arbitrator is a disinterested person, usually an attorney, selected by the parties to an arbitration or by the court to hear the case and make a determination based on the evidence without having a formal trial.  
  • Arraignment
      An arraignment is the first appearance with a judge in a criminal case where the charges against the defendant are read and a defendant is asked to plea guilty or not guilty. Release conditions may be set at this time.  
  • Arrears
      Arrears are money that is overdue to be paid; typically refers to child support or alimony that has not been paid on time.  
  • Articles of Incorporation
      Articles of incorporation are documents that are required to be filed with the state to incorporate a business. Typically, they include general information about the company, including name, address, and purpose. Many states have websites where you can develop and submit these documents(...)
  • Bail
      The release, prior to trial, of a person accused of a crime, under specified conditions designed to assure that person's appearance in court when required. Also can refer to the amount of bond money posted as a financial condition of pretrial release.  
  • Bail
      Is money or property put up to get a criminal defendant released from jail, which is supposed to ensure they appear at all required court appearances.   
  • Bankruptcy
      Is a federal legal proceeding involving people or businesses that cannot pay their debts and are seeking help from the court to rid them from those obligations, sometimes by paying a portion of each debt.  
  • Bar
      In the legal field, a bar refers the association that regulates the lawyers allowed to legally practice within a jurisdiction.  
  • Bench trial
      A bench trial is a trial without a jury where the judge makes the final determination. A jury trial is where a jury determines the facts of a case. A bench trial is only allowed in certain misdemeanor cases or when a Defendant waives their right to a jury trial.  
  • Beyond a reasonable doubt
      In a criminal case, the prosecution is required to prove this standard to the jury in order to convict the defendant of a crime.  
  • Binding precedent
      Refers to the decisions made by higher courts, which set the legal standards lower courts must apply when handling cases that are similar and have the same issues. All district courts are bound by the decisions of the appellate courts which review their cases, and all courts, state and(...)
  • Brief
      A brief is a written document containing the summary of the facts of the case, pertinent laws, and a party’s argument applying the law to the facts.  
  • Burden of proof
      In a court case, the burden of proof is the obligation placed on one of the parties to prove their claims in order to get a decision in their favor.  For example, a prosecutor has to prove a criminal claim beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict a criminal defendant of a crime.  
  • Canons of ethics
      Canons of ethics are the ethical standards attorneys must follow in the practice of law.  
  • Capital offense
      A capital offense is a crime which can result in someone being sentenced to death, such as treason or first-degree murder.  
  • Case law
      Is law established from previous decisions by appellate courts or the Supreme Court of the United States that are used in writing an argument in a brief or answer.  
  • Case number
      The number assigned by the court to identify one case from another.   
  • Cause of action
      The factual situation which provides a legal right to bring a claim in court for damages and compensation.  
  • Certified copy
      A certified copy is a copy of a document that is authenticated and certified as a true copy of the original document by the person who is in possession of the original.  
  • Certiorari
      Granting a writ of certiorari is the legal equivalent of agreeing to do something. A higher court, such as the Supreme Court of the United States, grants a writ of certiorari to review a lower court’s procedure and decision.  
  • Charge
      In a criminal case, the Defendant gets charged with committing a crime. The charge is the law the defendant is accused of breaking.  
  • Circumstantial evidence
      Is when a principal fact is inferred from one or more circumstantial facts. For example, a judge or jury can infer a person committed a crime if they are seen running away from the scene of the crime.  
  • Civil law or civil case
      A civil case involves private parties or businesses suing each other under law not regulated by a state or federal government.  
  • Class action
      A class action is a case brought by an individual or two on behalf of a larger group of people.  
  • Clearinghouse
      An organization located in one spot that monitors, receives, and disburses child support-IV-D payments.  
  • Client security/protection fund
      Is a fund established by the Supreme Court of Arizona to help people hurt by the dishonest conduct of licensed Arizona attorneys by reimbursing them for loses they have sustained.  
  • Closing
      Usually refers to purchasing and selling of real estate. It is the final exchange where the parties exchange the agreed on amount for the title and deed.  
  • Code of Professional Responsibility
      The ethical rules attorneys are required to follow when practicing law.  
  • Common law
      is the original legal system, based on court decisions, that originated in England and was brought over to the United States when it was first forming. United States common law varies by state, the three types are: English; French; and Spanish.  
  • Compensatory damages
      Is money awarded to compensate someone for losses suffered. Typically, it is for damages that can be measured, such as medical bills or replacing property, but can also include harder to measure damages, such as pain and suffering.  
  • Complainant
      In a civil case, the complainant is the party alleging the offense and brining the lawsuit.  
  • Complaint
      The complaint is the initial document filed to begin a case. It lists the facts of the case, the relevant law, and the action the filing party is asking the court to take.  

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Client Testimonials

Arizona attorney Darin Colburn

“The calm in the middle of my storm…”

I, recently, consulted with Darin after my wife filed for divorce. He was referred to me by a friend whom I very much trust. Darin was the antithesis of the first two attorneys I consulted (who were matter-of-fact and had very little empathy about the fact that I was struggling emotionally with what was transpiring). From the first few minutes of speaking with Darin, it was obvious that he was very knowledgeable and skilled with divorce and family matters. While that was most important to me, the thing that made the difference was his calming, logical, and empathetic approach. He took the time to listen and empathize with me. He took the time to understand what I wanted to achieve through this process and laid out my options. After the consultation, I knew he would be my attorney if I had to pull the trigger. I, ultimately, didn’t have to engage Darin’s services due to a reconciliation with my wife. I hope I never have to go through that process again, however, if I do, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt who I will be hiring to represent me…Darin R. Colburn. Darin, thank you for caring and being more than an attorney.

Frank - AVVO Review

Divorce / Reconciliation Client
Attorney David Maletta

“There is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David”

I hired David Maletta and it was the best decision of my life. His knowledge, genuine interest, overall attitude, and ability to connect with people is incomparable. I could talk about all of this at length. I COULD do all of that, but that wouldn’t do David justice. He first and foremost demonstrates his interest and genuine care for his client. Being in uncharted territory with a criminal charge and nowhere to turn, David’s presence and personality put all nerves at ease. I went through a jury trial with David beside me. The trial ran for 3 days and I spent a significant amount of time with David one-on-one. During this stressful time, he wanted to hear my input and thoughts on everything. David was incredible from the first day I met him. Not only is he a great attorney, but he is also a great person who cares about people and finding justice for his clients. He connects to the human side of people. I can’t put into words how much David cares about the individual in a case. When it comes to the courtroom, there is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David.

Jacob - AVVO Review

DUI Defense Client
Arizona attorney Darin Colburn

“Because of Darin I got my daughter back”

Before I hired Darin I went through a total of 3 different attorneys in two different states fighting a jurisdiction battle, when my daughter was taken to a different state. It was a very difficult decision to switch attorneys at one of the most difficult, time sensitive and important times in my case, but I’m very glad I did. Upon receiving my file from previous attorneys Darin came very familiar with my case quickly. Like other people have explained he took the time to lay everything out and explain how the process was going to proceed and what to expect and continued to do this as new issues arrived. He is also very quick at responding to emails and phone calls. My case was getting close to trial as told by my previous attorneys, I did not want to go to trial as I know this is very costly (most attorneys will convince you that you need to.) Darin knew my situation, fought for what was right and got the results I wanted while avoiding a costly trial. He is extremely knowledgeable in the Child Support Guidelines as well. Because of Darin I got my daughter back. I would highly recommend him and would hire again for any future issues. Thanks Darin!

Chris - AVVO Review

Child Custody & Support Client
Attorney David Maletta

“I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.”

Dave stayed with me while he pushed back and forth with Covid-19 and the delays with court. Once cited, the state basically decides that you’re guilty through the automatic suspension of your drivers license. Dave immediately took care of that problem and I never lost the privilege of driving. Dave took notes like crazy and was upfront about our uphill battle. I was also well aware that the plea deal that was given to us, was unacceptable and through Dave’s knowledge and experience I had put my trust in him to guide me to make the right decision on how to proceed. With Dave’s guidance I had decided that we needed to fight for something better than what the prosecutor was offering and Dave was 100 percent behind me on that decision. We knew the risks, be we also knew we had very little to lose based on the prosecutions stance. We decided to go to trial… Watching the prosecution and then watching Dave was night and day!! It was clear to the jury that the prosecution didn’t have their facts straight and were not addressing the facts that they could not address…There was a lot at stake for my personal life and my work life. I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.

Gregory - AVVO Review

Criminal Defense Client
Arizona Attorney Timothy Hintze

“Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently”

I had an incident and was Given the catch-all charge. There wasn’t really anything I could do by myself to get out of it. Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently to ensure that I would have the best possible outcome from my case. Which he successfully achieved! As of right now I am on the path to having my case fully dismissed. A couple things that really helped me through this process was that Tim did an amazing job at was answering my questions. He was available almost anytime and would respond promptly when he got my emails. He was also very approachable and comforting to be around while we had in person meetings and especially when I was at the court house. I would trust him and the company he works for with any other cases in the future and as of right now they will be my first choice if I need a lawyer in the future.

Dylan - AVVO Review

Criminal Defense Client
Arizona Attorney Timothy Hintze

“Listens to every request that you make on a case”

I honestly just want to let it be known to any and everyone looking for an attorney on a case. Whether it be DUI, possession, or your every day to day traffic violations where you need representation attorney Tim Hintze is your man. You have to respect a man that listens to every request that you make on a case and he gets in there and gets it done. Tim has my respect as an attorney and being a well-rounded representer. From him being honest on the possibility and options for your case to him being easy to work and communicate with via over the phone or face to face Mr. Hintze is working it out.

Ben - AVVO Review

Criminal Defense Client
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