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Glossary of Legal Terms & Definitions

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  • Conciliation  A conciliation is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a neutral third party tries to help resolve a case without proceeding through the court system, similar to a mediation.  
  • Constable  A constable is an elected official directed by the Justice of the Peace to deliver and return legal notices/documents.  
  • Contempt of court  A person is found in contempt of court when they willfully disobey or disrespect the court or a judge’s command and interfere with the administration of justice. Someone found in contempt of court can face financial sanctions and, potentially, jail time.  
  • Contingency fee  A contingency fee is the amount a lawyer agrees to be paid out of the damages awarded to their client. Typically, filing fees and other costs associated with working the case are not considered part of the contingency fee amount.  
  • Continuance  A continuance is a request by a party for the court to postpone a legal proceeding to a later date.  
  • Contract  A contract is a legally enforceable agreement made either orally or in writing between two or more parties creating an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing. A contract can be formed by orally agreeing to do something, signing an agreement, or by performing your part of the(...)
  • Conviction  In a criminal case, a conviction is when someone has been found guilty of committing a crime.  
  • Copyright  A copyright is a legally enforceable authority someone was given to prevent other people or businesses from copying things they have written, authored, or created.  
  • Corporation  A corporation is a legal entity authorized by a state to conduct business or other activities within the state. Similar to an individual person, a corporation can perform actions necessary to carry on business, such as enter into contracts or sue/be sued. Typically, those who own a(...)
  • Counsel  Is another word for attorney or lawyer in a case, a person who can give legal advice.  
  • Counterclaim  In a civil case, a counterclaim is made by the Defendant against the Plaintiff alleging they did something to cause or aggravate the issue.  
  • Court  A court is an entity established by the federal or state government to resolve legal disputes.  
  • Court costs  Are the costs associated with arguing or defending a court case, not including attorney fees. For example, the costs associated with filing the complaint or the costs for hiring a process server.  
  • Court reporter  A court reporter is a person who works for the court who transcribes word-for-word what is said in a court proceeding or deposition and produces a transcript of the proceedings upon request.  
  • Crime  Someone commits a crime when they do an action forbidden by a state or federal statute or regulation.  
  • Criminal justice system  All the courts and tribunals established to handle enforcement of criminal law.  
  • Cross-examine  When a witness has finished being questioned by the attorney who asked them to testify and the opposing attorney starts questioning them.  
  • Damages  Damages are money the court has awarded to the injured party in a court case.  
  • Debtor  A debtor is a person or business that owes a monetary amount to another person or business.  
  • Decree  Another word for the court’s final decision on a case.  
  • Deed  A legally enforceable written document that outlines and describes the boundaries of a property.  
  • Default  A defendant is found to be in default when they fail to appear after receiving the summons and answer the complaint.  
  • Default judgment  Default judgment is entered when a defendant is found to be in default and awards the opposing party what they are requesting.  
  • Defendant  Is the person accused of a crime or being sued for an action that has to defend themselves in a legal proceeding.  
  • Delinquent Act  When a minor commits an act that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult.  
  • Department of Economic Security (DES)  An Arizona agency tasked with overseeing and coordinate IV-D payments and public assistance programs.  
  • Dependency  A dependency action begins when children are removed from their parents’ home for safety or general welfare concerns. During a dependency action, a court will determine whether the parent is fit to care for the child or if their parental rights should be severed.   
  • Deposition  Oral or written testimony taken outside of court, under oath, of a witness or a party to be used later as evidence or read in court.  
  • Disbarment  Disbarment is when a lawyer’s license is revoked, either temporarily or permanently, for unethical conduct.  
  • Discipline Agency  An agency established by the state to investigate complaints against lawyers and, if necessary, enforce an appropriate punishment. These agencies cannot help recover fees paid or force lawyers to reimburse for losses suffered.  
  • Discovery  The gathering of facts and documents possessed by other parties or witnesses before trial in order to prepare arguments for trial.  
  • Dismissal  A court or party dismisses a case when they find there is not enough evidence to proceed.  
  • Dismissal with prejudice  When a good reason exists for dismissing a case and the plaintiff is forbidden from bringing the same claim again.  
  • Dismissal without prejudice  When a case is dismissed for a lack of supporting evidence, but the same claim may be brought later in a new suit.  
  • Docket (trial docket)  A list of cases and matters to be completed in those cases assigned to a specific judge, or a list of court proceedings the judge has that day.  
  • Domicile  A person’s permanent residence or their home to which they intend to return.  
  • Double jeopardy  When a criminal defendant may not be tried a second time for the same crime where the prosecution failed to convict through no fault of the defendant.  
  • Due process  Constitutionally, a person cannot have their basic rights taken away by the government without receiving their day in court.  
  • Duty of Support  Parents of an unemancipated natural or adopted minor child have an obligation to financially support them until they reach the age of 18, unless the child is still attending high school or a certified equivalency program, then they must continue to support the child until finished. If a(...)
  • Emancipation  A process where a child, due to age or circumstance, requests a court to declare them legally independent from their parents.  
  • En Banc  Is Latin for “in the bench” or “full bench.” It is a term used when an entire appellate court or the U.S. Supreme Court sit to hear a case, instead of only a portion.   
  • Equal Parenting Time  An agreement between parents that equally splits the children’s time between them each year.  
  • Equal Protection Clause  The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that state government institutions must equally apply the law to each person regardless of preference or class of persons over another.  
  • Evidence  Evidence is testimony or documentation presented by either party to the judge or jury to support their argument and persuade them to rule in their favor.  
  • Ex Parte  Ex parte is a Latin phrase for when a party asks for relief from the court without providing notice to the opposing party. Typically, an ex parte proceeding is done to obtain orders of protection.  
  • Exhibit  An exhibit is documentation, such as a report or photograph, or physical evidence, such as a gun, presented at trial in support of one party’s argument.  
  • Expert witness  A third party not directly involved in a legal proceeding who has specialized knowledge of a subject and is asked to testify on how that knowledge applies to the case. For example, an expert on poison could testify about the type of poison used to kill someone.  
  • Expungement  Expungement is a legal process that allows a person convicted of a crime to petition a court to destroy any record of the case from court records, so it is like the case never existed.  
  • Extradition  When a state or country agrees to turnover an accused criminal to another state or country.  
  • Felony  A felony is a serious criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death.  

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What People Say

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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