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Copyright 2014 by Attorney Carlos Gamino
​and jury used in everyday conversation, and you probably have a pretty good idea what all those terms mean. Something like nolo contendere is probably more of a stretch, but if you know that one, you’re already a step ahead of the game.

The Most Common Legal Terms

There are literally hundreds of legal terms (why do you think lawyers have to go to school for so long?) and some of them are rarely—if ever—used. 

Particularly in criminal cases, though, there are a few key terms you need to understand so your journey (or a loved one’s journey) through the Milwaukee court system is a little less painful.

An acquittal is either a judge’s finding that of insufficient evidence to support a conviction or a jury verdict that a criminal defendant is not guilty.

After a trial, you can appeal your case. An appeal is a request for a higher court to review the decision to determine whether it was correct. Someone who appeals is called the appellant, and the other party is the appellee.

Bench trial
A bench trial is a trial without a jury. The judge serves as the fact-finder in a bench trial.

Exclusionary rule
The exclusionary rule protects defendants by preventing evidence that was obtained in a way that violates a criminal defendant's constitutional or statutory rights from being used at trial.

Habeas corpus
Habeas corpus is Latin for "you have the body." A writ of habeas corpus generally is a judicial order forcing law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding, and to justify the prisoner's continued confinement. 

An indictment is a grand jury’s statement that there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to justify having a trial.

Nolo contendere
Nolo contendere is another Latin term that means “no contest.” A nolo contendere plea means that the defendant neither accepts nor denies responsibility for the charges, but is willing to accept punishment. 

What legal terms do you have questions about? Voir dire, sua sponte or in forma pauperis? (They’re all real!) I’d love to answer your questions here or on the official Carlos Gamino Facebook page

Carlos Gamino

Understanding Court Terminology for Beginners - Carlos Gamino
​Carlos Gamino, a Wisconsin criminal lawyer, has quite an impressive vocabulary if you ask his friends and family. But how much do you know about legal terminology? You might know more than you think.

Even if you’ve never been to court, you’ve heard words like witness, verdict 

News from Attorney Carlos Gamino

Understanding Court Terminology for Beginners

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