Glossary of Legal Terms & Definitions
- Fiduciary A person or company that has contractually agreed, or a court has appointed, to manage the money or property of another. For example, a trustee or an executor of an estate.
- Fiduciary Duty A legal obligation that requires a party to act in the best interest of another party. For example, a trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of a trust.
- Filing Fee The predetermined fee courts require for filing various documents with the court.
- Garnishment (Garnish) A court ordered remedy whereby the property or money of the debtor is taken and applied to the debt until it is paid off.
- Grand jury A group of people gathered prior to criminal charges being filed against a person to hear and determine if the prosecution has probable cause to prosecute someone for a felony.
- Guardian A relative or third party appointed by a will or by the law to assume responsibility for minor children or incompetent adults.
- Guardian ad litem Latin for a court appointed guardian of a child or incompetent person to look out for their best interests throughout a legal proceeding.
- Habeas corpus A writ of habeas corpus is filed to bring a prisoner before the court for any of the following reasons: to determine the legality of their imprisonment; to allow them to argue there is not sufficient cause to imprison them; to give testimony, or to be prosecuted.
- Hearing A formal proceeding held before trial to discuss issues of law or of fact. They can be used to narrow down the issues needed to be argued at trial or to help facilitate settlement.
- Hearsay Information a witness obtained secondhand from another source which they then try to testify to at trial. Unless it falls under an exception, hearsay is usually not admissible as evidence.
- Lawsuit A legal action originating with a complaint where a plaintiff claims a defendant failed to perform a legal duty owed to them, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.
- In Loco Parentis A Latin phrase referring to a person treated as a parent by a child, and that has established a meaningful parental relationship with them over a period but are not legally or biologically their parent.
- Indictment A written accusation submitted to the court by a grand jury, after hearing the prosecution’s evidence, charging a person with committing a crime.
- Indigent a person who cannot financially afford their own legal representation, so the court will have to appoint an attorney to represent them.
- Initial appearance In a criminal case, it is when a defendant first comes in front of a judge to determine if there is probable cause for their arrest and to establish release conditions.
- Initial hearing In a criminal case, it is when the judge informs the defendant of the charges against them, their rights moving forward, and decides what bail will be.
- Injunction An order from the court stopping another party from performing a specific act to prevent or mitigate damage or injury.
- Interrogatories A set of questions included in a party’s discovery request to the opposing party that is required to be answered in writing under oath.
- Interview A meeting between parties to ask questions and gather information.
- Joint and several liability When multiple parties are found liable for an injury and either of them can be held liable to pay the total amount of damages if the other liable party cannot afford to pay.
- Joint Legal Decision Making When neither parent has superior decision-making authority except for things specifically identified by the court or the parents in the final judgment.
- Judge A government official appointed to regulate legal proceedings and decide lawsuits brought before the court.
- Judgment The final determination by the court of each parties’ respective rights and obligations to the other.
- Jurisdiction The geographic area or type of case a court has authority to hear and decide a case on. For example, a bankruptcy case can only be heard in federal bankruptcy court. If a case meets certain criteria, then it can be heard in both state and federal courts. The party initiating the action(...)
- Jury A group of six to twelve people, unless otherwise agreed to, that is sworn to hear and determine the outcome of a case after hearing both sides’ arguments.
- Law clerk (staff attorney) An attorney that assists judges with researching case law and writing opinions for cases.
- Legal aid Organizations that may provide legal services to people or businesses which are unable to afford an attorney otherwise.
- Litigation The judicial process of bringing a lawsuit in a court of justice for the purpose of enforcing a right or a law.
- Living will A written legal document that instructs others how a person wants certain medical treatments handled if they ever lose consciousness, are disabled to the point where they cannot make the decision themselves, or end up on life-support.
- Magistrate A term that broadly refers to all judges or a judicial officer that assists U.S. district court judges in preparing cases for trial.
- Maintenance Also known as alimony, is money paid by one spouse to the other to financially support them as they did during marriage while they are going through a divorce or separation.
- Mediation A form of Alternative Dispute Resolution that allows parties to an action to informally resolve a dispute without going through the court system.
- Misdemeanor A criminal offense less serious than a felony punishable by fine or imprisonment for less than one year.
- Mistrial A mistrial is declared when a fundamental error occurs during a trial and a new jury must be selected to restart the trial.
- Moot A moot case or point is one that has already been resolved prior to needing a court decision, leaving nothing left for a court to decide.
- Motion A written request submitted to a court or judge requesting a ruling or order in that party’s favor.
- Motion to Dismiss In a criminal case, a motion to dismiss is a written request, typically filed by a defendant, arguing that the case should be thrown out for a violation of their rights or other legal issue.
- Negligence Failure to act in a way that a reasonable and prudent person would under similar circumstances.
- No-fault Divorce Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning parties can get a divorce regardless of the cause and without fault assigned to either party.
- Nolo Contendere A term meaning “no contest.” In a criminal case, it has the same effect as pleading guilty, but is not considered an admission of guilt, rather the defendant does not wish to contest the charges.
- Non-custodial Parent A child’s parent that has no legal custody of them or is not the primary caretaker.
- Notary Public A state authorized person who can administer oaths or certify documents.
- Notice of Appearance A written document filed with the court informing the other parties of their or their lawyers’ involvement in the case.
- Oath A solemn pledge by someone that a statement is true or that written documents are true/correct.
- Objection A challenge by an attorney of a statement or question made at trial that a judge must decide whether to allow or overrule.
- Opinion The written explanation of the court’s final decision on a case. When multiple judges hear a case, they can write a concurring opinion agreeing with the result or they can write a dissenting opinion disagreeing with it.
- Oral Argument An opportunity for a party or their attorney to appear before the court to present their argument and answer any questions.
- Panel Refers to either a group of appellate judges assigned to hear a case or a group of potential jurors.
- Paralegal (legal assistant) A person working under the supervision of a lawyer who has special training but does not have a law degree.
- Parties The opposing sides of a lawsuit.
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What People Say
“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
“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
“Nothing but good things to say about my experience.”
I have nothing but good things to say about my experience working with David Maletta. I was in a very high-stress situation facing a pending DUI charge. He doesn’t know this, but I actually interviewed 5 potential lawyers, and he was the most optimistic of all of them. He took over and handled everything, and now I don’t have to live with a DUI. Thank you so much for everything! Highly recommend them to anyone looking for legal help.
Lauren Koontz - Google Review
“This was the best possible outcome, great price, and fast.”
Darin helped me with a complex family law issue involving ownership of multiple businesses and other assets. He was able to structure a win-win that wasn’t only better than I thought was possible but that protected the business I had built. Above and beyond that, he did it with great customer service and character – which really matters to me. This was the best possible outcome, great price, and fast.
David R. - Google Review
“I still have a clean record to this day.”
One piece of advice for people who are charged with anything in Arizona is to hire a great lawyer because the state does not care if you’re innocent or not. The Arizona legal system will try to ruin your life. A couple of years ago I was the victim of an antisemitic hate crime when a guy named Billy, who had a history of drug and alcohol issues and was thrown out of the Navy for being violent, decided to attack me after drinking all day in Old Town (Sunday funday) over a pointless argument over whether it’s better to buy homes immediately post-recession or during the 10th year of a bull market run which was his argument. The disagreement led to Billy making several anti-semitic comments and assaulting me, which led to me beating up billy. Billy and his friends then went to the police and lied to try to get me thrown in jail for months for assault while getting 10s of thousands of dollars in restitution in the process. I hired David Maletta. We went to court and destroyed Billy and his best friend/roommate Taylor who were trying to extort me and ruin my life. In Arizona there is a 3.5% chance you’ll get all charges dropped because of how hard the state is on crime but we pulled it off and I still have a clean record to this day.
MJ Walsh - Google Review
“David was relentless in his pursuit of my son’s innocence”
We retained David Maletta to represent our son after being cited for what can only be described as a momentary lapse of reason. David was extremely knowledgeable, was able to clearly communicate very complicated concepts, and was relentless in his pursuit of my son’s innocence. He had strong relationships with the prosecuting attorney and respect of the judge, which ultimately resulted in my son learning a really hard lesson with limited consequences (traffic school and writing an essay to the judge on the physics of driving 130MPH and what happens if that goes badly). I have already sent all of my friends with teenage and 20 year old kids his contact information for when they inevitably get that call. David completely exceeded all of our expectations and we could not recommend him any stronger. Thank you for everything.
Shawn H. - Google Review
“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
“Very professional, very empathetic, and very responsive to all the issues.”
I had the opportunity to work with Darin during a very troublesome time in my life. As a family attorney, I found him to be very professional, very empathetic, and very responsive to all the issues I faced. I would recommend him to anyone without a second thought. Thank you, Darin!
Gary C. - Google Review
“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
“Responsive, sympathetic, professional, patient, and kind.”
On one of the worst and most surreal nights of my life (do not EVER get a DUI people!) I was lucky enough to find my way to Tim Hintze. Being in Phoenix for the Thanksgiving holiday from out of town, and after spending the evening with family, I ended up spending the night in jail.
Tim turned one of the worst experiences in my life into “it could have been so much worse!” Working with him from a different state, he covered the bases & paperwork, showed up for me in court, gave me numerous connections to muck my way through the system, and held my hand the whole way.
I cannot imagine how much worse this experience could have been, and thanks to Tim, I didn’t need to. He was responsive, sympathetic, professional, patient, and kind throughout the long process, drawn out by many months due to Covid.
Keep Tim’s number handy and in your contacts in the event you are ever in the sorry position to need a DUI lawyer!
Holly Weber - Google Review
“He fights for his clients like no one I have ever seen”
David Maletta is the absolute best trial attorney in the state of Arizona. He is a kind, emphatic, and extremely patient person. As an attorney, he is prepared, aggressive, and extremely skilled. He is not afraid to go to trial and fight for his clients, like other attorneys that just plead their clients to the original charges. When he is in trial, he flips a switch and goes from a nice guy to a killing machine. He fights for his clients like no one I have ever seen. Watching him do a cross-examination is exhilarating because he is so good it’s scary.
Patricia Bevins - Google Review
“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.