Guide To Commonly Used Legal Terminology Part 1

There are a lot of words, phrases, and terms that are used very often in legal cases, most of which are nearly incomprehensible to the average American. You may have heard some of them, but may not realize what they mean or how important each may be to your case. We are very familiar with legal terminology in the United States due to more than twenty years of experience in practicing law in Alabama and Georgia. To help you better understand your situation, here is a brief guide to commonly used legal terminology, and how it may affect your case.

Burden of proof is one of the most important phrases in any case. It refers to who has to prove to the court that you are guilty as charged. If this cannot be satisfied, then you cannot be convicted. When the state has the burden of proof, they must prove their claim. In cases where you have the burden of proof, you have to prove your innocence in the given case. For instance, in DUI cases, the prosecution (state) has the burden of proof. You do not have to prove that you are innocent; they have to prove that you are guilty.

A capital crime is one punishable by the death penalty. In the state of Alabama, this refers only to intentional murder with 18 aggravating factors present. The two forms of execution in Alabama are lethal injection (primary) and electrocution in very rare cases.

Due process refers to your constitutional right to a fair, speedy trial in the US. You are guaranteed an impartial trial, and if this is violated, it could result in an appeal, dismissal, or acquittal.

One of the most important terms used is evidence. Whether it is a document, eyewitness testimony, test result, or expert testimony, the evidence for or against you can make or break the case, without regard to the type of case or nature of the charges.

A felony is one of the more serious crimes that can be committed in the state of Alabama. There are many different types of felonies, encompassing crimes dealing with everything from violence to drugs. Repeat offenses can also be felonies, even if a first offense is only classified as a misdemeanor.

When the state is ready to try a case against a person, you will receive notification from a grand jury. This is called an indictment. Normally indictments are reserved for felony cases, but there may be some exceptions depending on the individual charged, the circumstances, and the charge.

In order to try a case against someone, the person/entity must have jurisdiction over them. For example, a judge will have jurisdiction over a specific region and those who are charged with crimes in that jurisdiction are under his jurisdiction.

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About handlawfirm

Born September 12, 1964, Ben earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree from Auburn University in 1987 and a Juris Doctorate degree from Cumberland School of Law in 1990. Ben has been a practicing attorney since 1990 and spent six years in Central America. He is familiar with customs and conditions of the region and is fluent in Spanish. Ben established and is currently the Vice President of the Legal and Contracting with Emergency Response Training Systems, the only company to run military style software (jcats/acats) for training of civilian law enforcement (ERTS Opelika, Alabama). This also provides homeland security training for the Auburn University Homeland Security department. Ben Hand is the winner of various Who’s-Who Awards, the Republican of the year for 2001, and a Republican Nominee for the U.S. House in 1994. He is licensed to practice law in Alabama and Georgia. Ben founded Hand, Fellows and Associates law firm and is the founding member of the board of directors of Beacon University in Columbus, Georgia. Ben currently represents thirty-two different non-profit organizations in Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee. He is a business legal adviser to seventy-five different small businesses and corporations. Ben was hired by Chief of police, Terry Sanders, to represent him in a dispute with the Valley City Council in Valley, Alabama and was also hired by Chief of Police, Ben Brown, to represent him in negotiations with the Lanett City Council and the mayor of Lanett, Alabama. The former city attorney for Uniontown, Alabama, Ben is a city prosecutor for cities of Opelika and Roanoke in Alabama. Ben is a family court referee in Lee County, Alabama and was appointed by Governor Bob Riley as an Administrative Law Judge for State Health Planning and Development Agency. He successfully represented the State Republican party in Lee County during Governor Bob Riley’s election challenge 2002. Governor Bob Riley was elected by a narrow margin and the outgoing Governor challenged the election. Ben was asked by Governor Riley to represent him in Lee County. Governor Riley won and the challenge was dropped by the outgoing Governor. Ben was a guest lecturer for the Auburn University Safe House. He instructed the local law enforcement and Domestic Violence counselors on obtaining protection from abuse orders. Ben was a guest lecturer for Auburn University SOAR for lawyers and realtors on construction law. He is an elder at Believers Church in Auburn, AL and on the board of directors for the Spirit of Life Church in Murfreesboro, TN. Ben is a Gideon speaker and member since 1992 and a Municipal Judge in Wedowee, Alabama since 1995. Ben%2
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