negligence - The degree to
which a person contributed to his/her own injury, damage or death. Usually measured in terms of percentage.
Contributory negligence is the failure to exercise care by a plaintiff, which contributed to the plaintiff's injury.
competency - A witness's ability to observe, recall and recount
under oath what happened. Criminal defendants must also be competent to stand trial; they must understand the nature
of the proceedings and have the ability to assist their lawyers.
complainant - Synonymous with "plaintiff," or, in criminal cases,
the complaining witness.
- The first pleading on the part of the
plaintiff in a civil action.
jurisdiction - The
jurisdiction of two or more courts, each authorized to deal with the same subject matter.
sentence - Sentence under
which two or more prison or jail terms are served simultaneously, and the prisoner is entitled to discharge when
the longest term specified expires (i.e., sentences of 1 to 15 years and 0 to 5 years means a maximum sentence of
15 years). Differs from a consecutive sentence, which is when the sentences are served back-to-back. (A 1 to 15 and
0 to 5 consecutive sentence could mean up to 20 years).
condemnation - The legal process by which real estate of a private
owner is taken for public use without the owner's consent, but the owner receives "just
release - A release from
custody which imposes regulations on the activities and associations of the defendant. If a defendant fails to meet
the conditions, the release is revoked.
court - Any act involving
disrespect to the court or failure to obey its rules or orders. Comtempt of court carries a maximum of 30 days in
continuance - A court order postponing
- An oral or written agreement between
two or more parties which is enforceable by law.
conviction - In a criminal case, a finding that the defendant