Glossary of terms

This page lists some common legal terms and abbreviations with their simple explanations. There is also a special section on probate terms. You can click on a letter below to skip directly to that letter.

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Abatement of action: A suit which has been quashed and ended.

Abduction: To take someone away from a place without that person's consent or by fraud.

Accomplice: A person who knowingly and voluntarily unites with the principal offender in a criminal act through aiding, abetting, advising, or encouraging the offender. Mere presence, acquiescence, or silence, in the absence of a duty to act is not enough to constitute being an accomplice.

Accord: A method of discharging a claim upon agreement by the parties to give and accept something in settlement of the claim.

Acquittal: The verdict of not guilty for a defendant in a criminal case.

Adjournment in contemplation of dismissal: Also known as pre-trial diversion or conditional dismissal. A program in which a Defendant essentially is put on probation for a set period of time and his or her case does not go to trial during that time. If the Defendant meets the conditions set by the Court, then the charge will be dismissed at the end of the allotted time.

Adjudication: Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree; also the judgment given. A determination by the court that the charges or complaint has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to the trier of fact that the juvenile has committed a delinquent act or that the complaint/petition is proven.

ADR: Abbreviation for Alternative Dispute Resolution

Adversary system: The system of trial practice in which each of the opposing parties has full opportunity to present and establish his/her contention before the court.

Advisement: The consultation of the court, after the argument of a cause by counsel, and before delivering an opinion.

Affidavit: A written or printed declaration or statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of a party making it, taken before a person having authority to administer such oath or affirmation.

Affirmative defense: In a criminal case, a defense which does not necessarily refute an allegation but offers new information which may be a mitigating factor in determining guilt in a criminal case. In a civil case, a defense that states that even if all the facts plaintiff alleges are true, defendant is not liable to plaintiff. For example, waiver, discharge of debt in bankruptcy, payment, or fraud.

Agent: A person who has received the power to act on behalf of another, bind that other person as if he or she were themselves making the decisions.

Aggravating circumstances: A judge may increase, up to double the maximum presumptive range, a sentence if he or she finds certain circumstances such as conviction of a crime of violence; that the defendant was on parole, probation or bond at the time of the commission of the felony; or defendant was already a prison inmate or an escapee from a prison.

AKA: Abbreviation for "also known as".

Alibi: A written defense filed by a defendant who claims that he or she was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime. The burden of proof is still on the prosecution to negate the alibi.

Alimony: Also called maintenance or spousal support In a divorce or separation, the money paid by one spouse to the other in order to fulfill the financial obligation that comes with marriage.

Allegation: The assertion, claim, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, made in a pleading, setting out what he/she expects to prove.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Methods for resolving problems without going to court. Also known as ADR.

Amicus curiae: A friend of the court -- a lawyer, person or organization - who is not a party to the action and does not represent a party to the action, but who with the court’s permission, volunteers information and opinion upon some matter of law in an amicus curiae brief.

Answer: The pleading in a civil suit by which the defendant admits, denies or otherwise controverts the sufficiency of the allegations of facts set forth in the plaintiff’s petition. It also contains defenses the defendant may have to the plaintiff’s allegations.

Appeal: A request by the losing party in a lawsuit for a higher court to review a lower court decision.

Appearance: The act of showing up in court, it implies you accept the power of the court to try the matter (jurisdiction). Appearances are most often made by lawyers on client’s behalf and any appearance by a lawyer binds the client.

Arbitration: The referral of a dispute to an impartial third person chosen by the parties to the dispute. The parties agree in advance to abide by the arbitrator's decision following a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard. Sometimes three persons sit as an arbitration panel.

Arraignment: The formal act of calling the defendant into open court, informing him or her of the offense charged, and the defendant's entry of a plea to the charge.

Arrears: A debt that is not paid on the due date adds up and accumulates as "arrears"

Arrest: To take into custody by legal authority.

Arrest warrant: A written order which is made on behalf of the state and is based upon a complaint issued pursuant to a statute and/or court rule and which commands law enforcement officer to arrest a person and bring before a judicial officer.

Assault: The touching of another person with an intent to harm, without that person’s consent

Attachment: An ancillary or auxiliary remedy by which the plaintiff acquires a lien upon property of the defendant to insure the satisfaction of a civil judgment.

Attorney at law: A person admitted to practice law in his/her respective state and authorized to perform both civil and criminal legal functions for clients including drafting legal documents, giving of legal advice, and representing the client before courts, administrative agencies, boards, etc.


Bad faith: Intent to deceive. Dishonesty or fraud in a transaction, such as entering into an agreement with no intention of ever living up to its terms, or knowingly misrepresenting the quality of something that is being bought or sold.

Bail: The release of arrested or imprisoned persons when security, cash, or property is given or pledged to ensure their appearance at a specified date and place. The most common bond is a surety bond in which bail is guaranteed by a commercial bondsperson.

Bail bond: An obligation signed by the accused to secure his or her presence at trial, which he/she may lose by not appearing for trial. Also, called a bond.

Bailiff: Court employee whose duty is to keep order in the courtroom. Also, is in charge of the jury.

Bankruptcy: Insolvency; a process governed by federal law to help when people cannot or will not pay their debts.

Bench warrant: An order issued by a judge for the arrest of a person.

Beneficiary: Person named in a will or insurance policy to receive money or property; person who receives benefits from a trust.

Bequest: A gift by will of personal property.

Beyond a reasonable doubt: The prosecution's burden of proof in a criminal case. The highest level of proof required necessary to obtain a guilty verdict in criminal cases.

Bigamy: Any married person, who while still married, marries or cohabits in this state with another.

Bill of particulars: A written statement specifying the details of the demand set forth in the petition in a civil action or of the charge set out in a criminal action. This is to give defendants more information to enable them to prepare an answer or defense.

Bind over: To require a defendant, following a preliminary hearing, to appear and answer in a court having jurisdiction to try the defendant for the crime with which he or she is charged.

Bond: 1. An undertaking, with or without sureties or security, entered into by a person in custody by which he or she binds himself/herself to comply with the conditions of the undertaking and in default of such compliance to pay the amount of bail or other sum fixed in the bond. 2. A document with which one party promises to pay another within a specified amount of time. Bonds are used for many things, including borrowing money or guaranteeing payment of money.

Booking: Also known as "booked". Part of the process of being arrested in which the details of who a person is and why he or she was arrested are recorded into the police records.

Breach of contract: The failure to do what one promised to do under a contract. Proving a breach of contract is a prerequisite of any suit for damages based on the contract.

Breach of trust: Any act or omission on the part of the trustee, which is inconsistent with the terms of the trust agreement; or the law of trusts. A prime example is the redirecting of trust property from the trust to the trustee, personally.

Brief: A written statement by counsel summarizing the facts of a case, the pertinent laws, and arguments of how the law applies to the facts supporting the lawyer’s position.

Burden of proof: In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove her/his case "beyond a reasonable doubt." Innocence is presumed. In civil cases, the plaintiff must prove her/his case with a "preponderance of evidence."

By-laws: A corporation's rules and regulations. They typically specify the number and respective duties of directors and officers and govern how the business is run.


Capital punishment: The most severe of all sentences: that of death, also known as the death penalty.

C.A.R.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Appellate Rules".

Case law: Also known as common law. The law created by judges when deciding individual disputes or cases.

Caveat emptor: Latin for "buyer beware." This rule generally applies to all sales between individuals. It gives the buyer full responsibility for determining the quality of the goods in question. The seller generally has no duty to offer warranties or to disclose defects in the goods.

CBI: Abbreviation for "Colorado Bureau of Investigation"
Cease and desist order. An order of an administrative agency or court prohibiting a person or business from continuing a particular course of conduct.

Cease and desist order: An order of an administrative agency or court prohibiting a person or business from continuing a particular course of conduct.

Certiorari: Latin that means, "to be informed of." A legal order by which a higher court commands a lower court to certify or to send up the record of a trial or other proceeding in the lower court for the purpose of judicial review. "Granting certiorari" means agreeing to consider a request or appeal.

Challenge for cause: An objection to a prospective juror based on bias or prejudice which may prevent him or her from being fair and impartial in a particular case.

Change of venue: A change in the location of a trial/hearings, usually granted to avoid prejudice against one of the parties or for jurisdictional guidelines.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy: A type of bankruptcy in which a person's assets are liquidated (collected and sold) and the proceeds are distributed to the creditors.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy: A type of bankruptcy in which a person keeps his assets and pays creditors according to an approved plan.

Character evidence:Testimony of witnesses who know the general reputation and character of a person. It may be considered by a jury in a dual respect: (1) as substantive evidence upon the theory that a person of good character and reputation is less likely to commit a crime than one who does not have a good character and reputation, and (2) as corroborative evidence in support of a witness as bearing upon credibility.

Charge: This includes the complaint, information, or indictment charging the accused with the commission of a crime.

Charge to the jury:The judges’ instructions to the jury concerning the law applicable to the case.

Charging lien: Entitles a lawyer who has sued someone on a client's behalf the right to be paid from the proceeds of the lawsuit, if there are any, before the client receives those proceeds.

Charter: A city’s organic law. Charter of municipal corporation consists of the creative act of incorporation, together with all those laws in force which relate to the incorporation, together with all those laws in force which relate to the incorporation, whether defining the power of the corporation or regulating the mode of exercise thereof.

Child abuse: Defined by state statutes. Usually occurs when a parent purposefully harms a child.

Child neglect: Defined by state statutes. Usually arises from a parent's passive indifference to a child's well-being, such as failing to feed a child or leaving a child alone for an extended time.
Children’s trust: A trust set up as part of a will or outside of a will to provide funds for a child.

Circumstantial evidence: All evidence of an indirect nature that implies something occurred but does not directly prove it.

Citation: An order to appear in court at a certain place at a specified time. Issuance of a citation is not an arrest.

Civil action: Action brought to enforce, redress, or protect private rights. In general, all types of actions other than criminal proceedings.

Class action suit: A lawsuit in which one or more parties file a complaint on behalf of themselves and all other people who are "similarly situated" (suffering from the same problem). Often used when a large number of people have comparable claims.

Clear and convincing evidence: The level of proof sometimes required in a civil case for the plaintiff to prevail. Is more than a preponderance of the evidence but less than beyond a reasonable doubt.

Closing arguments/statements: The final statements by lawyers in a trial arguing the evidence that they have attempted to establish or evidence they feel the other side failed to establish.

C.M.C.R.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Municipal Court Rules."

C.M.H.I.P.: Colorado Mental Health Institute of Pueblo

Codicil: A supplement to a will.

Cohabitation agreement: Also called a living-together contract. A document that spells out the terms of a relationship and often addresses financial issues and how property will be divided if the relationship ends.

Collateral: An asset that a borrower agrees to give up if he or she fails to repay a loan.

Collections Investigator: A person employed by the Judicial Department whose primary responsibility is to administer, enforce and collect on court orders or judgments entered with respect to fines, fees, restitution or any other accounts receivable of the court.

Collusion: A secret agreement between two or more persons, who seem to have conflicting interests, to abuse the law or the legal system, deceive a court or to defraud a third party. Example: if the partners in a marriage agree to lie about the duration of their separation in order to secure a divorce.

Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct: The rules of conduct that govern the legal profession. They contain general ethical guidelines and specific rules written by the American Bar Association and adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Comity: A code of etiquette that governs the interactions of courts in different states, localities and foreign countries. Courts generally agree to defer scheduling a trial if the same issues are being tried in a court in another jurisdiction. In addition, courts in this country agree to recognize and enforce the valid legal contracts and court orders of other countries.

Common law marriage: In some states, a couple is considered married if they meet certain requirements, such as living together as husband and wife for a specific length of time. Such a couple has all the rights and obligations of a traditionally married couple.

Community corrections: Public or privately operated community-based programs holding defendants in the community while providing them opportunities to work, attend school, or perform community services. The defendants may be there as part of a sentence or probation, or may be there as a conditional release from imprisonment.

Community property: Property acquired by a couple during their marriage. Refers to the system in some states for dividing the couple's property in a divorce or upon the death of one spouse. In this type of system, everything a husband and wife acquire once they are married is owned equally (fifty-fifty) by both of them, regardless of who provided the money to purchase the asset or whose name the asset is held in.

Commutation: The act of reducing a sentence. Only the Governor has the power to commute a sentence.

Comparative negligence: Also called comparative fault. The doctrine by which acts of opposing parties are compared in fault on a percentage basis. A party who is 50 percent or more at fault cannot recover. A party who is less than 50 percent at fault may recover, but at the reduced percentage.

Compensatory damages: Money awarded to reimburse actual costs, such as medical bills and lost wages. Also awarded for things that are harder to measure, such as pain and suffering.

Complainant: In criminal actions, the chief or only witness for the prosecution may sometimes be referred to as the complainant.

Complaint: In a civil action, the document that initiates a lawsuit. The complaint outlines the alleged facts of the case and the basis for which a legal remedy is sought. In a criminal action, a complaint is the preliminary charge filed by the complaining party, usually with the police or a court.

Concurrent jurisdiction: The power of more than one court to exercise jurisdiction over the same subject matter. Usually the first court that takes the case obtains jurisdiction to the exclusion of the other courts.

Concurrent sentences: Sentences for two or more crimes may be ordered by a judge to be served simultaneously rather than successively.

Conditional dismissal: Also known as pre-trial diversion or adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. A program in which a Defendant essentially is put on probation for a set period of time and his or her case does not go to trial during that time. If the Defendant meets the conditions set by the Court, then the charge will be dismissed at the end of the allotted time.

Confidentiality: The state or quality of being confidential; treated as private and not for publication.

Conflict of interest: A clash between public interest and the private pecuniary interest of the individual concerned. Refers to a situation when someone, such as a lawyer or public official, has competing professional or personal obligations or personal or financial interests that would make it difficult to fulfill his duties fairly.

Consecutive sentences: Sentences for two or more crimes may be served one after another instead of simultaneously.

Conservatorship: A guardian, protector, preserver - appointed by the court to manage the affairs of an incompetent person or to liquidate a business. Sometimes called a guardian.

Conspiracy: An agreement between two or more persons to commit a criminal act. Those forming the conspiracy are called conspirators.

Contempt of court: Any act calculated to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct a court, or calculated to lessen its authority or dignity. Direct contempt is committed in the immediate presence of the court and may be punished summarily without a jury trial. An indirect contempt usually is a failure or refusal to obey a court order.

Contingency fee: Also called a contingent fee. A fee arrangement in which the lawyer is paid out of any damages that is awarded. Typically, the lawyer gets between one-fourth and one-third. If no damages are awarded, there is no fee.

Contract: An agreement between two or more parties in which an offer is made and accepted, and each party benefits. The agreement can be formal, informal, written, oral or just plain understood. Some contracts are required to be in writing in order to be enforced.

Contributory negligence: In any action based upon the negligence of the defendant, the plaintiff's own contributory negligence may either defeat or reduce the amount of recovery.

Convict: To find a person guilty, either after a criminal trial, a plea of guilty, or a plea of nolo contendere (no contest).

Conviction: A finding that the defendant is guilty in a criminal case.

Copyright: A person's right to prevent others from copying works that he or she has written, authored or otherwise created.

Corroborating evidence: Evidence supplementary to that already given and tending to strengthen or confirm it.

Counterclaim: A claim presented by a defendant against the plaintiff following the claim of the plaintiff.

Court of record: Any court that makes a contemporaneous record of the proceedings.

Court reporter: An employee of the court, who records and transcribes an exact, word for word, account of all testimony and other statements made during court proceedings.

C.P.C.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Probate Code".

C.R.C.C.P.: Abbreviation for " Colorado Rules of County Civil Procedure".

C.R.C.P.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure".

C.R.E.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules of Evidence"

Creditor: A person (or institution) to whom money is owed.

Crime: An act or omission which is prohibited by criminal law;

Criminal case: A case brought by the government against an individual accused of committing a crime.

CRIM.P.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure"

C.R.J.D.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules of Judicial Discipline".

C.R.J.P.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules of Juvenile Procedure".

C.R.M.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules for Magistrates"

Cross-claim: A claim by one defendant against another defendant.

Cross-examination: The questioning of a witness by an opposing lawyer on questions and statements made under direct examination of the witness.

C.R.P.P.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules of Probate Procedure".

C.R.T.I.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules for Traffic Infractions".

C.R.S.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Revised Statutes"

Custodian: Under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, the person appointed to manage and dispense funds for a child without constricting court supervision and accounting requirements.

Custody: In criminal cases, this means the restraint of a person's freedom in any significant way.


Damages: The monetary compensation which may be recovered by a party for personal injury, or loss or damage to one's property or rights as a result of another party's unlawful act or negligence.

DBA: Abbreviation for "doing business as"

De facto: Latin meaning "as a matter of fact", something which, while not necessarily lawful or legally sanctified, exists in fact.

De novo: A new trial in which the result of the first trial is immaterial.

Declaration of invalidity: A court order that your marriage is null and void and has been null and void since the time of marriage. To obtain a declaration that your marriage is invalid you need to prove one of the grounds set forth in state statutes.

Debtor: A person who owes money, goods or services to another.

Decree: A decision or order of the court. A final decree fully and finally disposes of the litigation; an interlocutory decree is provisional or temporary.

Defamation: The publication of a statement that injures a person's reputation. Libel and slander are defamation.

Default: A default occurs when a party fails to plead or to take certain other required steps within the time allowed, or fails to appear at trial.

Default judgment: When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, she/he is in default and a judgment by default may be entered by the clerk of court.

Defendant: In criminal cases, the person accused of the crime. In civil matters, the person or organization that is being sued.

Deferred prosecution: An arrangement made between the District Attorney and defendant before trial halting the prosecution of a defendant for up to two years on the condition that he or she successfully meets conditions of probation, usually some type of counseling or drug or alcohol treatment. If conditions of probation are violated, the defendant may be tried on the original charge.

Deferred sentence or judgment: An arrangement in which a defendant who pleads guilty is placed on probation for up to two years, usually with conditions. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the guilty plea is withdrawn and the case is dismissed. If the defendant fails probation, he or she may be sentenced based upon the guilty plea.

Deposition: The testimony of a witness, taken in writing, under oath or affirmation, in answer to questions. This is held out of court with no Judge present, but the answers often can be used as evidence in the trial.

Determinant sentence: A sentence to confinement for a fixed period as specified by statute.

Direct evidence: Evidence that tends directly to prove or disprove a disputed fact. The best example is evidence of an eyewitness.

Direct examination: The initial questioning of a witness by the party calling the witness.

Directed verdict: A motion made at the end of a party’s case arguing that the opposing party has railed to present sufficient evidence of the case to proceed to the next stage.

Discovery: The pre-trial examination of a person or thing to obtain information relevant to the case.

Dismissal: The termination of a case.

Dismissal with prejudice: When a case is dismissed for good reason and the plaintiff is barred from bringing an action on the same claim.

Dismissal without prejudice: The dismissal of a case while allowing the party to sue again on the same cause of action at some future time. A dismissal "with prejudice" bars refiling of the lawsuit or charge.

District attorney: Under the state governments, the prosecuting officer who represents the state in each of its judicial districts.

Divorce: The final, legal ending of a marriage by a court order. Also referred to as dissolution of marriage.

DOC: Abbreviation for "Department of Corrections".

Docket. A schedule of proceedings.

Domicile: The permanent residence of a person, a place to which, even if he/she were temporary absence, they intend to return. In law, it is said that a person may have many residences but only one domicile.

Double jeopardy: The constitutional prohibition against a second prosecution of a person for the same crime.

Duces tecum: Latin meaning "bring with you". Used most frequently for a species of subpoena (as in "subpoena duces tecum") which seeks not the appearance of a person before a court but the surrender of a thing (document or some other evidence) by its holder, to the court, to serve as evidence in a trial.

Due process: The idea that laws and legal proceedings must be fair. The Constitution guarantees that the government cannot take away a person's basic rights to "life, liberty or property, without due process of law." Courts have issued numerous rulings about what this means in particular cases.

Duress: Where a person is prevented from acting (or not acting) according to their free will, by threats or force of another, it is said to be "Under duress"

DYC: Abbreviation for "Department of Youth Corrections"


Early neutral evaluation:An early intervention in a lawsuit by a court appointed evaluator, to narrow, eliminate, and simplify issues and to assist in case planning and management. Settlement of the case may occur.

Emancipated: Refers to freeing of a child by his or her parents, which involves an entire surrender of the right to the care, custody, and earnings of such child as well as renunciation of parental duties.

Embezzlement: The fraudulent appropriation by a person to personal use or benefit of property or money entrusted by another.

En banc: A session in which the entire membership of the court participates in a decision.

Enjoin: To order a person to perform, or to abstain and desist from performing a specified act or course of conduct.

Entrapment: The act of officers or agents of a government in inducing a person to commit a crime otherwise not contemplated for the purpose of prosecuting that person.

Equal protection clause: Portion of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits discrimination by state government institutions. The clause grants all people "equal protection of the laws," which means that the states must apply the law equally and cannot give preference to one person or class of persons over another.

Evidence: The testimony, writings, material objects, or other things presented to the senses that are offered to prove the existence or nonexistence of a fact.

Ex parte: Latin that means "by or for one party." A proceeding in which only one party takes part, non-adversary.

Exclusionary rule: A rule prohibiting the use of illegally obtained evidence in criminal prosecutions. Originally devised to prevent illegal methods of questioning or search and seizure by police.

Exigent circumstances: Emergency conditions.

Exhibit: A paper document or other physical object introduced into evidence during a trial, hearing, or deposition.

Expert witness: A witness with a specialized knowledge of a subject who is allowed to discuss an event in court even though he or she was not present. For example, an arson expert could testify about the probable cause of a suspicious fire.

Expunge: To physically erase, to white or strike out. To "expunge" something from a court record means to remove every reference to it. In juvenile delinquency records, "such records are deemed never to have existed".

Extradition: The surrender by one state of an individual accused of an offense to another state.

Extortion: Forcing a person to give up property in a thin through the use of violence, fear or under pretense of authority.


Fact-finding: An investigation of a dispute by a neutral third party who examines the issues and facts in a case, and who may or may not recommend settlement procedures.

Felony: A crime punishable by death or by imprisonment in a state penal institution

Fiduciary: A person having a legal relationship of trust and confidence to another and having a duty to act primarily for the other's benefit, e.g., a guardian or trustee.

Foreclosure: When a borrower cannot repay a loan and the lender seeks to sell the property.

Forgery: The false making or material altering, with intent to defraud, of any writing which, if genuine, might be the foundation of a legal liability.

Fraud: Deceitful conduct designed to manipulate another person to give something of value by (1) lying, (2) repeating something that is or ought to have been known by the fraudulent party as false or suspect or (3) by concealing a fact from the other party from being cheated

Fugitive: One who runs away to avoid arrest, prosecution or imprisonment.


Gag order: An order by the court, in a trial with a great deal of notoriety, directed to lawyers and witnesses, to not discuss the case with reporters - such order being felt necessary to assure the defendant of a fair trial. The term may also refer to orders of the court directed to reporters not to report court proceedings or certain aspects thereof. Such latter type orders have been struck down by the Supreme Court as being an unconstitutional obstruction of freedom of the press.

Garnishment: The act of taking a person's wages to satisfy a judgment. Also known as a wage execution.

Good faith: Honestly and without deception. An agreement might be declared invalid if one of the parties entered with the intention of defrauding the other.

Grand jury: A panel of members of the public chosen from regular jury pool lists. This panel determines whether there is probable cause to try an accused for a serious crime. Any charges issued by a grand jury are called indictments.

Green card: An immigrant visa. Allows an alien to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and to work legally, travel abroad and return, bring in a spouse and children and become eligible for citizenship.

Gross negligence: Failure to use even the slightest amount of care in a way that shows recklessness or willful disregard for the safety of others.

Guardian ad litem: A court-appointed representative charged with defending or protecting the interests of a person under legal disability, such as a child or incompetent individual involved in litigation.

Guardianship: The office, duty, or authority of a guardian.


Habeas corpus: Latin phrase meaning "you have the body". An order to bring a person before the court. Most commonly issued to wardens or jailers commanding them to produce a defendant or prisoner so the court may decide if that person is being lawfully confined.

Habitual offender: Also known as a "recidivist. A person who is convicted and sentenced for crimes over a period of time and even after serving sentences of incarceration, such as demonstrates a propensity toward criminal conduct.

Harmless error: An error committed by a lower court, but determined by an appellate court not to be prejudicial to the rights of the party affected, and, therefore, furnishing no basis for reversal of the lower court's judgment.

Harassment: Used in variety of legal contexts to describe words, gestures, and actions which tend to annoy, alarm and abuse (verbally) another person.

Hearsay: Evidence that is not within the personal knowledge of the witness but was relayed to the witness by a third party.

Hearing date: The time, in criminal law, for the trial of a person charged with a crime of misdemeanor.

Heirs: Persons who are entitled by law to inherit the property of the deceased if there is no will specifying how it's divided.

Holographic will: An un-witnessed handwritten will. A few states allow such documents to be admitted to probate, but most courts are very reluctant to accept them.

Homicide: The killing of one human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another. A person is guilty of criminal homicide if he purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causes the death of another human being. Criminal homicide is murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide.

Hostile witness: A witness who manifests hostility or prejudice against the calling party. On direct examination, the calling party may be permitted to question such a witness as if he or she has been called by the opposing party.

Hung jury: A divided jury that cannot agree on a verdict.


Illicit: Not permitted or allowed; prohibited; unlawful; as an illicit trade.

Immaterial: Not essential or necessary, not important or pertinent; not decisive; of no substantial consequence; without weight.

Immunity: A grant by the court against prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence against another.

Impaired mental condition: A condition of mind, caused by mental disease or defect, which does not constitute insanity but prevents the person form forming the culpable mental state which is an essential element of the crime. If found not guilty because of impaired mental condition, the person is committed to the Department of Institutions.

Impanel: The act of a clerk in making up a list of the jurors who have been selected for the trial of a particular cause.

Impeach: To attack the credibility of a witness by the testimony of other witnesses or by other evidence.

Implead: To sue; to prosecute. To bring a new party into action on grounds that the new party is, or may be, liable to the party who brings him or her in, for all or part of the subject matter claim.

Implied consent laws: Also called "express consent". Laws adopted by all states that apply to testing for alcohol in the blood, breath or urine (most states have such laws that apply to testing for the use of drugs). The principle underlying these laws is that any licensed driver who operates a vehicle has consented to submit to approved tests to show intoxication.

In camera: In chambers; in private.

Inadmissible: Information that which, under the established rules of evidence, cannot be admitted or received.

Incapacitated person: Any person who is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of rugs, chronic intoxication, or other cause (except minority) to the extent that he lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his person.

Incarceration: Imprisonment, confinement in a jail or penitentiary

Incest: Any person who knowingly marries, inflicts sexual penetration or sexual intrusion on an ancestor or descendant, including a natural child, child by adoption, or stepchild twenty-one years of age or older, a brother or sister of the whole or half blood, or an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of whole blood

Incompetent: A person lacking the capacity, legal qualification, or fitness to manage personal affairs or to discharge a required duty. A guardian may be appointed to conduct the affairs or protect the interests of an incompetent person.

Indeterminate sentence: An indefinite sentence of "not less than" and "not more than" a number of years, with the exact term to be set by parole authorities.

Indictment: A written statement, presented by a grand jury to the district court, which charges the commission of a crime by an alleged offender.

Indigent: Meeting certain standards of poverty, thereby, qualifying a criminal defendant for a public defender, waiver of fees and court-appointed counsel.

Information: A written statement signed by a district attorney presented to the district court, which charges the commission of a crime by an alleged offender.

Informed consent: Except in the case of an emergency, a doctor must obtain a patient's agreement (informed consent) to any course of treatment. Doctors are required to tell the patient anything that would substantially affect the patient's decision. Such information typically includes the nature and purpose of the treatment, its risks and consequences and alternative courses of treatment.

Infractions: Sometimes called violations. Minor offenses, often traffic tickets, which are punishable only by a fine.

Infringement: Unauthorized use, typically of a patent or copyright.

Injunction: A court order directing a person to refrain from doing something or ordering the person to do something.

Interlocutory: Provisional, temporary, not final. Refers to orders and decrees of a court.

Interim order: One made in the meantime, and until something is done.

Interrogatories: Written questions offered by one party and served on an adversary, who must provide written answers under oath.

Intestate: A person who dies without leaving or having left a valid will.

Intervenor: A person who voluntarily interposes in an action or other proceedings with the leave of the court.
Irrevocable living trust: A trust created during the maker's lifetime that does not allow the maker to change it.


Joint and several liability: Liability of more than one person for which each person may be sued for the entire amount of damages done by all

Judges, justices, and court: Often used synonymously or interchangeably; however, the lower courts use judges and the distinction of justice belongs to a Supreme Court member by virtue of his/her office.

Judgment: In a civil case, the official decision of a court determining the rights of the parties involved. In a criminal case, it includes the pronouncement of guilt and the sentence.

Judgment Creditor: The person(s) in whose favor a judgment is ordered.

Judgment Debtor: The person that the judgment is ordered against.

Jurisdiction: The power, right or authority to apply the law.

Jury: Citizens sworn to inquire into matters of fact and declare the truth about matters laid before them during a trial.

Jury instructions: The judge's instruction to the jury on the issues to be decided and the rules of law that apply to the case.

Jury trial: A trial whereby a group of citizens serving as a jury listens to evidence presented in court and gives its verdict.


Kidnapping: The unlawful taking and carrying away of a human being by force and against his or her will.

Knowingly: With knowledge, willfully, with respect to a material element of an offense.


Last clear chance: A rebuttal to the defense of contributory negligence (e.g. a defense to a defense). Although the plaintiffs own negligence may have endangered him or her, the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid injuring the plaintiff.

Lawyer: A person learned in the law; an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person licensed to practice law.

Leading question: A question so worded that the desired answer is suggested to the witness, particularly when it may be answered by yes or no. It is proper on cross-examination, but is normally prohibited on direct examination unless the witness is hostile or unless the court allows it.

Lesser included offense: One composed of some, but not all, of the elements of the greater crime and which does not have any element not included in the greater offense.

Levy: A legal process to obtain property or cash from the judgment debtor to satisfy a judgment.

Liability: Any legal responsibility, duty or obligation.

Libel: Defamatory (false and injurious) written statements or materials, including movies or photographs.

Lien: A claim that a person has upon the property of another as security for a debt owed.

Limited partnership: An unincorporated association or fir in in which partners are relieved of liability beyond the amount of the capital contributed by them.

Lis pendens: Latin meaning "a pending suit". Jurisdiction, power or control which courts acquire over property in suit pending action and until final judgment.

Litigant: A party to a lawsuit, one engaged in litigation usually spoken of active parties.

Litigation: A law suit, legal action, including all proceedings therein.

Living trust: A trust created during the maker's lifetime. Some living trusts are set up so that they can be changed during the maker's lifetime. These are called "revocable." Others, known as "irrevocable," are set up so that they can't be touched.

Living will: Also known as a medical directive or advance directive. A written document that states a person's wishes regarding life-support or other medical treatment in certain circumstances, usually when death is imminent.


Magistrate: Any person other than a judge authorized by statute or by Colorado Rules for Magistrates to enter orders or judgments in judicial proceedings.

Malfeasance: Evil doing; ill conduct; the commission of some act that is positively prohibited by law.

Malicious prosecution: An action instituted with intention of injuring the defendant and without probable cause and which terminates in favor of the person prosecuted.

Mandamus: A special proceeding to order an official to do an act required by law.

Mandate: A command, order or direction, written or oral which court is authorized to give and a person is bound to obey. A judicial command or precept proceeding from a court or judicial officer, directing the proper officer to enforce a judgment, sentence or decree. An order issued upon the decision of an appeal or writ of error, directing action to be taken, or disposition to be made of case, by inferior court.

Manslaughter: The unlawful killing of another without malice; may be either voluntary, upon sudden impulse, or involuntary.

Med arb: A process in which parties begin by mediation, and failing settlement, the same neutral third party acts as arbitrator of the remaining issues.

Mediation: A confidential process whereby a trained neutral third party assists disputing parties to reach their own solution.

Mens rea: Literally "guilty mind", the criminal intent to commit an act forbidden by statute. One of the two basic requirements, along with a prohibited act, which must occur for a crime to exist.

Mini-trial: A structured settlement process in which the principals involved meet at a hearing before a neutral advisor to present the merits of each side of the dispute, and attempt to formulate a voluntary settlement.

Minor: A person who does not have the legal rights of an adult. A minor is usually defined as someone who has not yet reached the age of majority. In most states, a person reaches majority and acquires all of the rights and responsibilities of an adult when he or she turns 18.

Miranda Rule: Before any interrogation by law enforcement authorities after a person is taken into custody, he or she must be warned: (1) that she/he has a right to remain silent; (2) that any statement she/he does make will be used as evidence against her/him; (3) that she/he has a right to the presence of a lawyer; (4) that if she/he cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for her/him prior to any questioning if she/he so desires; and (5) that she/he may end the questioning at any time.

Misdemeanor: A criminal offense punishable by a sentence of two years or less to the county jail.

Mistrial: A trial terminated prior to a verdict as a result of a fundamental error prejudicial to the defendant.

Mitigating circumstance: A circumstance which does not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense, but which may be considered as reducing the degree of moral culpability.

Mittimus:Latin meaning, "we send". The name of a order issued from the court, directed to the sheriff or other law enforcement commanding him to receive and safely keep such person as listed with the conviction charges and sentence.

Money Judgement: Part of a judgment that requires the payment of money.

Moot: An issue which no longer has significance.

Motion: An application for a rule or order, made to the judge.

Motion for new trial: Request in which a losing party asserts that a trial was unfair due to legal errors that prejudiced its case.

Motion for directed verdict: A request made by the defendant in a civil case. Asserts that the plaintiff has raised no genuine issue to be tried and asks the judge to rule in favor of the defense. Typically made after the plaintiff is done presenting his or her case.

Motion for summary judgment: A request made by the defendant in a civil case. Asserts that the plaintiff has raised no genuine issue to be tried and asks the judge to rule in favor of the defense. Typically made before the trial.

Motion in limine: A written motion which is usually made before or after the beginning of a jury trial for a protective order against unduly prejudicial evidence.

Motion to suppress: A motion asking that allegedly secured illegal evidence be eliminated from trial.

Municipal courts: Courts confined to the city or community in which they re established.


Negligence: The omission to do something that a reasonable person, guided by ordinary considerations, would do; or the doing of something that a reasonable and prudent person would not do.

Next friend: One acting for the benefit of a child or other person without being regularly appointed as guardian.

NKA: Abbreviation for "now known as".

No fault: Fault on the part of either party need not be shown or proved.

No true bill: Finding by a grand jury that an indictment is not justified by the evidence.

Nolle prosequi: The notice that a prosecutor will no longer pursue charges, i.e., the dropping of charges.

Nolo contendere: Latin meaning "I will not defend it". No contest. A pleading that denies the guilt but admits the facts on which the charge is based.

Not guilty by reason of insanity: A person who is so diseased or defective in mind at the time of the commission of the act as to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to that act is not accountable." A defendant found not guilty by reason of insanity is committed to the Department of Institutions until declared sane.

Notary public: A person authorized to witness the signing of documents.

Notice of appeal: The document a person must file with the trial court in order to pursue an appeal.

Notice of les pendens: A notice filed on public records for the purpose of warning all persons that the title of certain property is in litigation and they are in danger of being bound by an adverse judgment. The notice is for the purpose of preserving rights pending litigation

Nunc pro tunc: Latin meaning "now for then". It refers to the doing of something late, with the effect as if it had been done on time.


Oath: A solemn affirmation to tell the truth or to take a certain action

Objection. The act of taking exception to some statement or procedure in trial, to call the court's attention to improper evidence or procedure.

Obligee: The person who is to receive the benefit of some one else’s obligation, that "someone else" being the obligor.

Obligor: The person who is contractually or legally, committed or obliged, to providing something to another person, the recipient of the benefit being called the obligee.

Offense. A felony or misdemeanor, a breach of criminal laws that subjects the offender to imprisonment, and/or fines.

Order: A formal written direction given by a member of the judiciary.

Own recognizance: Sometimes called personal recognizance bond. A person who promises to appear in court to answer criminal charges can sometimes be released from jail without having to pay bail. This person is said to be released on his or her own recognizance.

Opening statements: An outline or summary of the nature of the case and of anticipated proof presented by counsel to the jury at start of the trial.

Opinion evidence: Evidence of what a witness thinks, believes, or infers as distinguished from personal knowledge of the facts. Generally, opinion evidence is admissible only when given by an expert unless the opinion is based on matters common to laypersons.

Order: A command from the court directing or forbidding an action.

Ordinance: A written law enacted by the legislative body of a county, township, or city.


Pardon:Action by an executive relieving a criminal from the sentence or from prosecution for specified acts.

Parental responsibility: Previously known as "custody". Both parents are expected to assume responsibility for ensuring that the children’s needs are met. Parental responsibilities are to be defined and apportioned between the parents, other criteria have been provided to help parents divide decision-making authority. (i.e.: decisions about health, education, religion, etc.)

Parenting time: Previously known as "visitation". The right of a parent to spend time with children pursuant to a court order.

Parole: The release of a person from incarceration from a prison serving a sentence on a convicted crime prior to the expiration of said sentence. If stipulated conditions of parole are observed, the parolee need not serve the remainder of the sentence. The parolee is under the supervision of a state parole officer.

Partition: A court action to divide property. Typically taken when a property is jointly owned and a dispute arises about how to divide it.

Pedophile: A person who’s sexual perversion in which child are preferred as sexual partner

Penalty phase: The second part of a bifurcated trial, in which the jury hears evidence and then votes on what penalty or damages to impose.

Peremptory challenge: The challenge which the prosecution or defense may use to reject a certain number of prospective jurors without assigning any cause.

Perjury: The criminal offense of making a false statement under oath.

Permanent Restraining Order (PRO): An order granting continuous protective relief to prevent assaults and threatened bodily harm, to prevent domestic abuse, to prevent emotional abuse of the elderly, and to prevent stalking.

Perpetuating testimony: The recording of evidence when it is feared that the person with that evidence may soon die or disappear and that this person’s evidence, if recorded, could then be used in the future to prevent a possible injustice or to support a future claim of property.

Personal recognizance: A type of bail consisting of a written promise to appear in court when required. A bond secured only by the personal obligation of the person giving the bond. See Own Recognizance

Personal representative: A person who manages the legal affairs of another, such as a power of attorney or executor.

Petit jury: A jury for the trial of a civil or criminal case.

Petition: A written application to the court asking for specific action to be taken.

Plaintiff: The initiator of a lawsuit in civil proceedings, this person may also be known as "claimant", "petitioner", or "applicant".

Petty offenses: Minor crimes, lesser penalties, which are generally punishable by a small fine or short jail term.

Plea: Five pleas possible in criminal cases: (1) not guilty; (2) not guilty by reason of insanity; (3) not guilty because of impaired mental condition; (4) no contest; and (5) guilty.

Plea-bargaining: The process whereby the accused and the prosecutor negotiate a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case. The defendant may plead guilty to a lesser offense or to only one or some of the charges. In return, the defendant seeks concessions on the type and length of sentence or a reduction of counts charged.

Pleadings: That part of a party’s case in which he/she formally sets out the facts and legal argument which support that party’s position.

Power of attorney: A document which gives a person the right or authority to make binding decision for another.

Precedent: A previously decided case that is considered binding in the court where it was issued and in all lower courts in the same jurisdiction.

Prejudicial error: Similar to reversible error. An error that can cause an appellate court to reverse a judgment.

Preliminary hearing: A hearing in which a judge or magistrate determines there are sufficient grounds to compel the accused to stand trial. If probable cause is found, a defendant is "bound over" for trial.

Preponderance of evidence: The greater weight of evidence, or evidence that is more credible and convincing to the mind.

Pre-sentence investigation: The abbreviation is "PSI". An investigation conducted at the request of the court after a person has been found guilty of a criminal offense. Provides the court with extensive background information to determine an appropriate sentence.

Pre-sentencing report: A report prepared by a probation department for a judicial officer to assist in the sentencing. Typically contains information about prior convictions, arrests, work history, family details and interview between the probation department and the defendant.

Presumption of innocence: Every defendant enters a trial presumed to be innocent. The presumption remains until and unless the state overcomes the presumption by competent evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Pre-trial diversion: Also known as adjournment in contemplation of dismissal or conditional dismissal. A program in which a Defendant essentially is put on probation for a set period of time and his/her case does not go to trial during that time. If the Defendant meets the conditions set by the court, then the charge will be dismissed.

Prima facie: Latin for a legal presumption of "on the face of it" or "at first sight". Refers to the minimum amount of evidence a Plaintiff must have to avoid having a case dismissed. It is said that the Plaintiff must make a prima facie case.

Prior restraint: Restraint on a publication before it is published, prohibited by the Constitution.

Privileged communication: Conversation that takes places within the context of a protected relationship, such as that between an attorney and client, a husband and wife, a priest and penitent, and a doctor and patient. The law often protects against forced disclosure of such conversations.

Pro se: (pronounced pro say) Latin phrase that means "for himself." A person who represents himself in court alone without the help of a lawyer is said to appear pro se.

Probable cause: Reasonable cause, having more evidence for than against. A reasonable ground for belief in the existence of facts warranting the proceedings complained of.

Probate: Court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid; though in current usage this term has been expanded to generally include all matters and proceedings pertaining to administration of estates, guardianships, etc.

Additional probate definitions pursuant to § 15-10-201 C.R.S. are as follows:

Administrator: An individual appointed by the court to manage the estate of a person who died without leaving a valid will.

Agent: An attorney in fact under a durable or non-durable power of attorney, an individual authorized to make decisions for another under the "Colorado Patient Autonotomy Act".

Application: A written request to the registrar for an order of informal probate or appointment under informal probate and appointment proceedings.

Augmented estate: An estate reduced by funeral and administration expenses, homestead allowance, family allowances, exemptions, and enforceable claims to which is added value of property transferred to anyone other than bona fide purchaser and value of property owned by surviving spouse at decedent’s death.

Authenticated: Means certified, when used in reference to copies of official documents, and only certification by the official having custody is required.

Beneficiary: As it relates to a trust beneficiary, includes a person who has any present or future interest, vested or contingent, and also includes the owner of an interest by assignment or other transfer; as it relates to a charitable trust, includes any person entitled to enforce the trust; as it relates to a "beneficiary of a beneficiary designation", includes a beneficiary of an insurance or annuity policy, of an account with payment on death (POD) designation, of a security registered in beneficiary form (TOD), or of a pension, profit sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan or other non probate transfer at death; and as it related to a beneficiary designated in a governing instrument, includes a grantee of a deed, a devisee, a trust beneficiary, a beneficiary of a beneficiary designation, a donee, appointee, or taker in default of a power of appointment, and a person in whose favor a power of attorney or a power held in any individual, fiduciary or representative capacity is exercised.

Beneficiary designation: A governing instrument naming a beneficiary of an insurance or annuity policy, of an account with POD (Payment of Death) designation, of a security registered in the beneficiary form (TOD), or a pension such goods or chattels. , profit sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan, or other non probate transfer at death.

Bequest: A gift by will of personal property.

Child: An individual entitled to take as a child under the probate code; by Intestate succession from the parent whose relationship is involved and excludes a person who is only a stepchild, a foster child, a grandchild, or any more remote descendant.

Claims: Includes liabilities of the decedent or protected person whether arising in contract, in tort, or otherwise, and liabilities of the estate which arise at or after the death of the decedent or after the appointment of a conservator, including funeral expenses and expenses of administration. The term does not include estate or inheritance taxes, or taxes due the state of Colorado, or demands or disputes regarding title of a decedent or protected person to specific assets alleged to be included in the estate.

Conservator: A person who is appointed by a court to manage the estate of a protected person.

Court: The court or division thereof having jurisdiction in matter relating to the affairs of decedents and protected persons. In Colorado this court is the District Court, except in the city and county of Denver where it is the Probate Court.

Descendant: All of the individual’s lineal descendants of all generations, with the relationship of parent and child at each generation being determined by the definitions of child and parent contained in the probate code.

Devise: Used as a noun - means a testamentary disposition of real or personal property. Used as a verb - means to dispose of real or personal property by will.

Devisee: A person designated in a will to receive a devise. For the purpose of Article 12 - Probate of Wills and Administration, in the case of a devise to an existing trust or trustee, or to a trustee in trust described by will, the trust or trustee is the devisee and the beneficiaries are not devisees.

Disability: Cause for a protective order as described in §15-14-401 C.R.S. (protection of property of persons under disability and minors).

Distributee: Means any person who has received property of a decedent from his or her personal representative other than as a creditor or purchaser. A testamentary trustee is a distributee only to the extent of distributed assets or increments thereto remaining in his or her hands.

Divorce: Includes dissolution of marriage, and "annulment" includes a declaration of invalidity, as such terms are used in the "Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act in article 10 of title 14 C.R.S.

Estate: The property of the decedent, trust, or other person whose affairs are subject to the probate code as originally constituted and as it exists from time to time during administration.

Exempt property: Property of a decedent’s estate which is described in §15-11-104 C.R.S.Fiduciary: Includes a personal representative, guardian, conservator, and trustee

Foreign personal representative: A personal representative appointed by another jurisdiction.

Formal proceedings: A proceeding conducted before a Judge with notice to interested person.

Governing instrument: A deed, will, trust, insurance or annuity policy, multiple party account, security registered in beneficiary form (TOD), pension, profit sharing, retirement or similar benefit plan, instrument creating or exercising a power of appointment or poser of attorney or a donative, appointive, or nominative instrument of any other type.

Guardian: A person who has qualified as a guardian of a minor or incapacitated person pursuant to testamentary or court appointment, but excludes one who is merely a guardian ad litem.

Heirs: Except as controlled by §15-11-711 C.R.S., means persons, including the surviving spouse, who are entitled under the statutes of interstate succession to the property of a decedent

Incapacitated person: Any person who is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxicating or other cause (except minority) to the extent that he lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his person.

Informal proceedings: Conducted without notice to interested persons by an officer of the court acting as a registrar for probate of a will, appointment of a personal representative, or determination of a guardian.

Interested person: Heirs, devisees, children, spouses, creditors, beneficiaries, and any other having a property right in or claim against a trust estate or the estate of a decedent, ward, or protected person, which may be affected by the proceeding. Also includes persons having priority for an appointment as a personal representative and other fiduciaries representing the interested person. The meaning as it relates to particular persons may vary from time to time and shall be determined according to the particular purposes of, and matter involved in any proceedings.

Issue: Of a person means descendant as defined in intestate successions and wills.

Joint tenants with right of survivorship/community property with the right of survivorship: The purposes of this code only includes co-owners of property held under circumstances that entitle one or more to the whole of the property on the death of the other or others, but excludes forms of co-ownership registration in which the underlying ownership of each party is in proportion to that party’s contribution.

Lease: Includes an oil, gas or other mineral lease.

Letters: Includes: 1. Letters testamentary - The formal instrument of authority and appointment given to an executor by the property court, empowering him to enter upon the discharge of his office as executor. It corresponds to letters of administrations; 2. Letters of guardianship - A commission placing ward’s property in the care of officer of court as custodian; 3. Letters of administration - Formal document issued by probate court appointing one an administrator of an estate.; 4. Letters of Conservatorship - Formal document issued in probate court appointing one to manage the estate of a protected person.

Minor: A person who is under eighteen (18) years of age.

Mortgage: any conveyance, agreement or arrangement in which the property is used as security.

Nonresident decedent: A decedent who was domiciled in another jurisdiction at the time of his or her death.

Organization: A corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, joint venture, Limited Liability Company, association, government or governmental subdivision or agency, or any other legal or commercial entity.

Parent: Any person entitled to take, or who would be entitled to take if the child died without a will, as a parent under the probate code by intestate succession from the child whose relationship is in question and excludes any person who is only a stepparent, foster parent or grandparent.

Payor: A trustee, insurer, business entity, employer, government, government agency or subdivision, or any other person authorized or obligated by law or a governing instrument to make payments.

Person: An individual or an organization

Personal representative: This includes an executor, administrator, successor personal representative, special administrator, and persons who perform substantially the same function under the law governing their status. "General personal representative" excludes special administrator.

Petition: A written request to the court for an order after notice.

Proceedings: Includes action at law and suit in equity

Property: Means both real and personal property or any interest therein and anything that may be the subject of ownership.

Protected person: A person for whom a conservator has been appointed or other protective order has been made.

Protective proceedings: A proceeding to determine that a person cannot effectively manage or apply his estate to necessary ends, either because he lacks the ability or is otherwise inconvenienced, or because he is a minor, and to secure administration of his estate by a conservator or other appropriate relief.

Registrar: The official of the court designated to perform the functions as provided in and designated by the court by a written order filed and recorded in the office of the court of court and specified by the probate code.

Security: Includes any note; stock; treasury stock; bond; debenture; evidence of indebtedness; certificate of interest or participation in an oil, gas, or mining title or lease or in payments out of production under such a title or lease, collateral trust certificate, transferable share, voting trust certificate; or in general, any interest or instrument commonly known as security; any certificate of interest or participation; any temporary or interim certificate, receipt, or certificate of deposit for, or any warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase any of the items enumerated.

Settlement: In reference to a decedent’s estate, means the full process of administration, distribution and closing.

Special administrator: An appointment to preserve the estate or to secure its proper administration including is administration in circumstances where a general personal representative cannot or should not act - It may appear to the court that an emergency exists.

State: Any state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

Successor personal representative: A personal representative, other than a special administrator who is appointed to succeed a previously appointed personal representative.

Successors: Persons other than creditors, who are entitled to property of a decedent under his or her will or this code.

Supervised administration: To secure complete administration and settlement of a decedent’s estate under the continuing authority of the Court which extends until entry of an order approving distribution of the estate and discharging the personal representative or other order terminating the proceedings.

Survive: An individual than has neither predeceased an event, including the death of another individual, or is deemed to have predeceased an event under §15-11-104, §15-11-702 and §15-11-712 C.R.S. The term includes its derivatives, such as "survives", survived", "survivor", and "surviving".

Testacy proceeding: A proceeding to establish a will or determine intestacy.

Testator: An individual of either sex, who makes or has made a testament or will; one who dies leaving a will. This term is borrowed from civil law.

Trustee: Includes an original, additional or successor trustee, whether or not appointed or confirmed by court.

Ward: A person for who a guardian has been appointed. A minor ward is a minor whom a guardian has been appointed solely because of minority.

Will: Includes any codicil and any testamentary instrument that merely appoints an executor, revokes or revises another will, nominates a guardian, or expressly excludes or limits the right of an individual or class to succeed to property of the decedent passing by intestate succession.

Probation: The sentence of a court whereby an individual is put under the jurisdiction of a probation officer, rather than incarcerated. Sometimes, a short jail sentence is a condition of probation. It is the most widely used correctional disposition both in Colorado and in the United States.

Pro bono: For the good; used to describe work or services done or performed free of charge. .
Promissory note: A written document in which a borrower agrees (promises) to pay back money to a lender according to specified terms.

Prosecutor: A government lawyer who tries criminal cases, typically known as the District Attorney, State’s Attorney or the United States Attorney.

Protective order: In litigation, an order that prevents the disclosure of sensitive information except to certain individuals under certain conditions. In a domestic dispute, an order that prevents one party from approaching another, often within a specified distance.

PSI: Abbreviation for Pre-Sentence Investigation, used to gather information for a pre-sentence report from the probation department or a private probation.

Public defender: A lawyer employed by the government to represent individuals accused of crimes that cannot afford their own attorney.

Punitive: Punitive damages are damages on an increased scale, awarded to the plaintiff in a civil case over and above what will compensate for ordinary loss, in an effort to punish the defendant or to set an example for wrongdoers.


Quash: To overthrow, vacate, to annul or void a summons, indictment, or subpoena.

Quasijudicial: The authority or discretion vested in an officer where that officer's acts partake of a judicial character.

Quid pro quo: Latin phrase that means "what for what" or "something for something". The concept of getting something of value in return for giving something of value. For a contract to be binding, it usually must involve the exchange of something of value.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment: Where an employee is threatened with a demotion (or promised a promotion) in exchange for "sexual favors." It usually comes from a supervisor or other person in a position of authority.

Quitclaim deed: A deed that transfers the owner's interest to a buyer but does not guarantee that there are no other claims against the property.


Real property: Land and all the things that are attached to it. Anything that is not real property is personal property and personal property is anything that isn't nailed down dug into or built onto the land. A house is real property, but a dining room set is not.

Reasonable doubt: That state of mind of jurors in which they cannot say that the crime charged has been proved. Reasonable doubt is based on reason and common sense. It is not vague, speculative, or imaginary. It would cause reasonable persons to hesitate to act in matters of importance to themselves.

Rebuttal: The introduction of evidence that may show statements of witnesses are not true.

Re-cross examination: Questioning a witness about matters brought up during re-direct examination.

Redirect examination: An examination of a witness by the direct examiner subsequent to the cross-examination of the witness.

Rehabilitation: After cross-examination, a witness whose credibility has suffered may be examined again (redirect examination).

Residuary estate: Also known as residue of the estate. Portion of the estate left after bequests of specific items of property are made. Often the largest portion.

Residuary legatee: The person or persons named in a will to receive any residue left in an estate after the bequests of specific items are made.

Res ipsa loquitur: A Latin phrase that means, "the thing speaks for itself." Refers to situations when it is assumed that a person's injury was caused by the negligent action of another party because the accident was the sort that wouldn't occur unless someone was negligent.

Replevin: An action whereby the owner or person entitled to repossession of goods or chattels may recover those goods or chattels from one who has wrongfully distrained or taken or who wrongfully detains Replevin is designed to permit one having right to possession to recover from another who has either wrongfully taken or detained property

Reply: In its general sense, the plaintiff's answer to the defendant's statement or counterclaim.

Respondent: The party that responds to a claim filed in court against them by a Plaintiff.

Restitution: The requirement that an offender provide financial remuneration for the losses incurred by the victim. Always a condition of probation.

Restorative justice: Restorative justice is a process whereby the parties with a stake in a particular offense come together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offense and its implications for the future. The process is an effort to find "common ground" between victim, community and offender.

Retainer: Refers to the up front payment a client gives a lawyer to accept a case. The client is paying to "retain" the lawyer's services.

Retaining lien: Gives a lawyer the right to hold on to your money or property (such as a deed) until you pay the bill.

Revocable living trust: A trust created during the maker's lifetime that can be changed. Allows the creator to pass assets on to chosen beneficiaries without going through probate.

Right against self-incrimination: Granted by the Fifth Amendment. Allows a person to refuse to answer questions that would subject him or her to accusation of a criminal act.

Right of eminent domain: The government's right to acquire private property for public use.

Right of survivorship: In a joint-tenancy, the property automatically goes to the co-owners if one of the co-owners dies. A co-owner in a joint tenancy cannot give away his or her share of the property.

R.T.V.B.: Abbreviation for "Colorado Rules for County Court Violations Bureau."


Sealed verdict: When the jury has agreed upon a verdict, if the court is not in session at the time, they (the juror) are permitted to put their written finding in a sealed envelope and then separate. This verdict they return when the court again convenes. The verdict thus returned has the same effect, as must be treated in the same manner as if returned in open court before any separation of the jury had taken place.

Search warrant: An order in writing by a judicial officer, directing a law enforcement officer to search for and seize any property that constitutes evidence of the commission of a crime, contraband, the fruits of crime or things otherwise criminally possessed; or property designed or intended for use which is or has been used as the means of committing a crime. A search warrant may be issued upon an affidavit or sworn oral testimony.

Security agreement: A contract between a lender and borrower that states that the lender can repossess the property a person has offered as collateral if the loan is not paid as agreed.

Self-defense: The protection of one's person or property against some injury attempted by another. The law of self-defense justifies an act done in the reasonable belief of immediate danger.

Self proving will: A will accompanied by a sworn statement from witnesses and signed before a notary public. Many states accept such wills in order to avoid the cumbersome process of requiring an executor to track down the witnesses.

Separation agreement: Written arrangements concerning custody or parental obligation, with child support, spousal maintenance and property division made by a married couple who are usually about to obtain a divorce or legal separation.

Sequestration of witnesses: A discretionary action by the court excluding witnesses from the courtroom while earlier witnesses are being examined.

Service of process: The act of notifying the other parties that an action has begun and informing them of the steps they should take in order to respond.

Settlement: The resolution or compromise by the parties in a civil lawsuit.

Settlement conference: An informal assessment and negotiation session conducted by a legal professional who hears both sides of the case, may advise the parties on the law and precedent relating to the dispute, and suggest a settlement.

Standing: The legal right to initiate a lawsuit. To do so, a person must be sufficiently affected by the matter at hand, and there must be a case or controversy that can be resolved by legal action.

Stare decisis: Latin for "to stand by that which is decided". The doctrine that once a principle of law has been determined to be applicable to certain facts, that principle will be followed in future cases involving substantially identical facts.

Statutes of fraud: Laws in most states to protect against false claims for payment from contracts that were not agreed upon. The specific laws vary from state to state, but most require that certain contracts be in writing.

Statutes of limitations: Laws setting deadlines for filing lawsuits within a certain time after events occur that are the source of a claim.

Stay: An order stopping a judicial proceeding or execution of a judgment.

Stipulation: An agreement by opposing lawyers on any matter. Most stipulations must be in writing.

Strict liability: A concept applied by courts in product liability cases in which a seller is liable for any and all defective or hazardous products that unduly threaten a consumer's personal safety.

Subpoena: An order to a witness to appear and testify at a specified time and place.

Substantive law: The law dealing with rights, duties, and liabilities, as distinguished from the law regulating procedure.

Summation: The closing argument in a trial.

Summons: An order to a sheriff or other officer to notify a named person that a civil action has been commenced against him or her and that he or she is required to appear within a specified period and answer the complaint. A written order or notice directing that a person appear before a designated court at a stated time and place and answer to a charge against him or her. The document initiates all civil law suits and is referred to as process.

Supersedeas: The name of a writ containing a command to stay the proceedings at law.

Supersedeas bond: A bond required of one who petitions to set aside a judgment or execution and from which the other party may be made whole if the action is unsuccessful.

Suppression of evidence: A trial judge's ruling that evidence sought to be admitted should be excluded because it was illegally acquired. A hearing for this is required outside the presence of a jury, often before trial.


Temporary restraining order (TRO): An order granted without notice or hearing, maintaining the status quo until a hearing to determine the propriety of injunctive relief, temporary or permanent. In other states and in the federal courts this can be referred to as a protective order.

Tenancy in common: A type of joint ownership that allows a person to sell his share or leave it in a will without the consent of the other owners. If a person dies without a will, his share goes to his heirs, not to the other owners.

Testamentary trust: A trust created by the provisions in a will. Typically comes into existence after the writer of the will dies.

Testator: The person who makes a will.

Testate: One who has died leaving a will, or one who has made a will.

Testimony: The statements made by a witness, under oath, usually related to a legal proceeding or legislative hearing; evidence given by a competent witness under oath or affirmation, as distinguished from evidence derived from writing and other sources.

Tort: An injury or wrong committed, either with or without force, to the person or property of another.

Traverse: Signifies a denial; where a Defendant denies any material allegation of fact in the Plaintiff’s declaration.

Trust: Property given to a trustee to manage for the benefit of a third person. Generally the beneficiary gets interest and dividends on the trust assets for a set number of years.

Trustee: Person or institution that oversees and manages a trust.


UIFSA: An abbreviation of "Uniform Interstate Family Support Act".

Unjust taking: When the government acquires private property and fails to compensate an owner fairly. A taking can occur even without the actual physical seizure of property, such as when a government regulation has substantially devalued a property.

Usury: The taking of more interest for the use of money than the law allows.


Valid claim: A grievance that can be resolved by legal action.

Venire: The panel of citizens called for jury service from which a jury will be selected.

Verdict: The opinion rendered by a jury, or a judge where there is no jury, on a question of fact. A verdict differs from a judgment in that a verdict is not a judicial determination, but is a finding of fact.

Vicarious liability: When one person is liable for the negligent actions of another person, even though the first person was not directly responsible for the injury. For instance, a parent sometimes can be vicariously liable for the harmful acts of a child and an employer sometimes can be vicariously liable for the acts of a worker.

Victim: Any person aggrieved by the conduct of an offender. For a complete listing of who may be considered a victim, please see Section 18-1.3-602(4) of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Victim Impanct Statement: A written statement from the victim detailing how the crime has impacted them. This statement will include a section showing the financial losses of the victim due to the crime, which could ultimately be ordered by the court and recovered as restitution..

Voir dire: Literally "to speak the truth." The preliminary examination of prospective jurors or witnesses. Such an examination of a witness (outside the presence of a jury) may determine whether evidence is admissible. Pronounced "vwa deer."


Wage execution: The act of taking a person's wages to satisfy a judgment. Also know as garnishment.

Waiver: The intentional and voluntary relinquishment of a legal right.

Warrant: An order issued by a judicial officer of a court of record directed to any peace officer commanding the arrest of the person named or described in the order.

Warrantless arrest: An arrest of a person without a warrant. It is generaly permissible if the arresting officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed a felony or if the person has committed a misdemeanor amounting to a breach of the peace.

Weight of evidence: The balance or preponderance of evidence; the inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence to support one side of an issue.

Witness: One who testifies under oath as to what she/he has seen, heard or otherwise observed.

Writ: An order issued from a court requiring the performance of a specified act, or giving authority to have it done.

Writ of attachment: A writ employed to enforce obedience to an order or judgment of the court by taking, apprehending or seizing.

Writ of certiorari: An order by the appellate court that is used when the court has discretion on whether or not to hear an appeal. If the writ is denied, the court refused to hear the appeal and, in effect, the judgment below stands unchanged. If the writ is granted, then it has the effect of ordering the lower court to certify the record and send it up to the higher court that will use its discretion to hear the appeal.

Writ of execution: A writ to put in force the judgment or decree of a court by taking property of the Debtor in satisfaction of a debt.

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