General Legal Terms

AAmerican Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) The group that works to protect civil liberties of Americans.
At Will
If you are employed on an “at will” basis, this means that you or your employer can terminate your job for any or no reason, at any time, and with or without notice, so long as the termination does not violate any laws.
BBankruptcy
The process by which federal bankruptcy courts help consumers and businesses in financial trouble to eliminate some debts or repay them under the protection of bankruptcy courts.
Beneficiary
Refers to the person or entity (like a charity) who receives assets or profits from an estate, a trust, an insurance policy or any other financial vehicle from which assets are distributed after death.
CCastle Doctrine
The castle doctrine simply creates a presumption that one has acted in self defense.
DDue Process
A constitutional right afforded by the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, guaranteeing that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Durable Power of Attorney
A document that grants a person of your choice legal authority to manage your financial affairs, effective immediately, and whether or not you are incapacitated or incompetent.
Dying Intestate
Refers to people who die without a will. In this case, the state (probate court) will make a will for your estate in accordance with established parameters that are dependent on who your heirs are.
IIndictment
The process of being formally charged with a crime, typically a serious criminal offense. Indictments are determined by grand juries.
LLibel
Libel is typically written or printed defamation but can include pictures, signs, film, and electronic broadcasts like websites, webcasts, podcasts, television, or radio.
Limited Liability Company
(LLC) a formal organization of a business that limits the extent to which members can be personally liable for the obligations of a business.
MMediation
The attempt to settle a legal dispute with the help of a mediator who works to find points of agreement and get those in disagreement to agree on a fair result.
Miranda Warnings
Refers to legal warnings that law enforcement officers must give suspects in custody if they would like to question the suspects and later be legally able to use the answers to those questions as evidence in court.
NNo Fault Divorce
A divorce where the spouse suing for divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong in order to be granted the right to legally end the marriage. Florida is a no-fault divorce state.
PParalegal
A person qualified by education, training, and/or work experience who is employed (by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other group) to do substantive legal work for which a lawyer oversees and is responsible.
Protected Class
Refers to characteristics that lawmakers have specifically protected from discrimination, including age; race and color; national origin; sex, pregnancy; disability; religion, veteran status and disability.
SSafety Violations
Refers to violations of workplace safety standards established by the federal Department of Labor, specifically detailed and updated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act or OSHA.
Search and Seizure
Refers to the action of law enforcement to search for and take evidence, following the rules of the 4th Amendment, when it is reasonable that a person would not consider the place being searched to be a private place.
Sentence
The punishment given to a person convicted of a crime. A sentence is ordered by the judge, based either on the trial jury’s verdict or the judge's decision if there was a bench trial (no jury).
Slander
Slander is usually spoken defamation but can include gestures, sign language, and other “non-permanent” statements.
Spousal Support
Commonly referred to as alimony, is a financial award sometimes granted during a divorce, to be paid by the higher wage-earner spouse to the lower or non-wage-earner spouse.
Standard of Care
The accepted level of care and caution that a prudent and reasonable individual should use when providing care for others.
Statute of Limitations
A term that details the maximum period of time by which legal proceedings must be initiated.
Structured Settlement
An agreement for the financial settlement of a lawsuit to be paid out in installments rather than in a lump sum.
Sub-prime loans
Sub-prime loans are typically offered to persons with poor credit histories or those with a lack of credit history, carrying a higher rate of interest than prime loans to compensate the lender for increased credit risk.
TTemporary Total Disability
A wage continuation offered by the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation for employees unable to work following a worker’s compensation claim.
Trade Secrets
Confidential, non-public information about a business, including business methods, ideas, recipes, or anything else a company finds especially important to its future livelihood.
UU.S. Patent and Trademark Office
(USPTO)is the federal office that reviews and grants (or declines) patents and registration of trademarks and service marks.
VVisa
A U.S. visa allows someone to apply for entry to the U.S. but does not grant them the right to enter the United States.
WWarrant
A formal written order approved or signed by a judge or magistrate, allowing law enforcement officials the right to conduct activities, typically related to either a request to search premises or to arrest someone.
White Collar Crimes
A class of crimes committed by professionals, business people, and public officials often involving a deliberate attempt to mislead others, steal, or misrepresent for the purpose of obtaining money fraudulently.
ZZoning
The laws that state how a private user, business, or other entity may use land, including the type and size of buildings or houses that will be allowed on certain lots.