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Definitions of Legal Terms

Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe

Do you know what ex parte means? I believe it is safe to say that we have all watched at least one crime drama series or movie in our lifetime and sometimes on those shows, especially the television shows with courtroom proceedings, we have heard terms that we may or may not be familiar with so this article is about some of the legal terms we hear on those shows and what they mean. A few of these I wasn’t certain of so when looking up some terms, I got the idea to write this article about them, just in case a few of you do not know what they mean.

Ex parte
Have you ever watched a courtroom drama and heard the judge ask a lawyer something along the lines of, “Are you coming to me ex parte?” This is probably an easy one to figure out but the definition of ex parte is something that is brought before a court by either a prosecuting attorney or a defense attorney only, without notice to or challenge by the other side.

“Your honor, we have exculpatory evidence.”
Exculpatory evidence is evidence that proves a defendant did not commit the crime he/she was arrested for.

Inculpatory Evidence
You guessed it. Inculpatory evidence is evidence that a defendant did in fact commit the crime he/she is charged with.

Habeas Corpus
Habeas Corpus is a Latin term meaning you have the body. A writ of habeas corpus is usually a an order provided by a judge to law enforcement officials to produce a prisoner that they are holding in jail and to provide evidence as to why the prisoner is still being confined by said authorities.

“The grand jury has handed down an indictment stating that there is enough evidence against someone to proceed with criminal charges.”
A grand jury is a group of people anywhere in number from 16 to 23 usually and they hear the evidence of a potential criminal case, presented by prosecuting attorneys, and this group of people determine if there is enough evidence to warrant going ahead with criminal proceedings against the individual(s) in question.

In Camera
In camera is a latin term which means “in private”. This is a proceeding that takes place in the judge’s chamber and usually without a jury or the public seeing it.

Indictment
An indictment is the formal charge by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence against a defendant to proceed with a criminal trial and is usually used in felony cases.

Jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is simply the study of law and the structure of the legal system.

Litigation
A litigation is a case or a lawsuit and the parties of the proceeding are called litigants.

“Please have the jury sequestered.
When a jury is sequestered during a trial, they are kept from outside influences during their deliberations and that usually means no access to televisions, newspapers, magazines, etc…

“That issue should have been brought up during voir dire
Voir dire is the questioning of any potential juror during the jury selection process to determine their qualifications or to challenge a potential juror and excuse him/her from being on the jury or to accept that juror for the jury.

There you have it. A list of terms that you may have heard on a crime drama or somewhere in everyday life, and what those terms mean.
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Content copyright © 2015 by Vance R. Rowe. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Vance R. Rowe. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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