Glossary of Terms

Alimony Determined during a divorce case, alimony is the financial support that one spouse may be required to pay to the other spouse. 
Assault Assault can be defined as any action, or threat of an action, that would cause immediate, unwanted physical contact or physical harm to an individual. 
Defamation Defamation is the use of statements, either written or verbal, that cause damage to another individual’s reputation. 
Defendant The defendant is the party that a lawsuit is filed against. In civil cases, for example, the defendant would be the party being sued. In criminal cases, the defendant is the party accused of committing a crime. 
Domestic Violence This is any act of violence committed against an individual within the same domestic circle. This could be any relatives, family friends or roommates.  
Embezzlement This refers to the removal of property by an individual who was entrusted to take care of it. This could refer to money, or other property that is not owned by the individual. Most commonly, this occurs by employees of an organization that steal property from the organization they work for.   
Executor An executor is someone who is named in an individual’s will, who is responsible for the distribution of assets after the individual dies. The executor may also be responsible for settling any debts or taxes left behind by the deceased. 
Felony Felonies are more serious crimes such as armed robbery, murder or arson, that can result in heavy fines and at least one year or more of imprisonment if convicted.
Incapacitated A person becomes incapacitated when they no longer have the mental or physical capability to manage their own assets. Proving this requires a doctor’s note stating that the individual can no longer make informed decisions about their care, finances, or property.
Intestate A situation in which an individual dies without having a will. This most often results in Probate, where the distribution of the descendant’s property is determined by the court. 
Intoxicating Substance An intoxicating substance, either legal or illegal, is one that has the capability to produce a mind-altering effect upon introduction to the body. This could be through ingestion, smoking, snorting or any other means that would allow the substance access to the body. Some examples would be alcohol, drugs and controlled substances.
Libel A type of defamation referring to written statements.
Malpractice Often used in a medical context, malpractice is the professional negligence of an individual, by which they fail to provide the proper service or perform their duties to the generally accepted standards of their profession. In the medical context, this could look like a doctor prescribing the incorrect medicine, or misdiagnosing a patient. These instances often have drastic consequences. 
Misdemeanor Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, such as petty theft or traffic violations, that are punishable by up to a year in prison.
Negligence Legally, negligence is defined as a failure to act with the appropriate amount of care that is expected of an individual under the circumstances. Often, an individual is harmed due to another’s negligence. 
OUI, OWI, DUI, DWI Terms used to mean operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Operating under the influence, Driving While Intoxicated, Driving Under the Influence and Operating While Intoxicated can all be used interchangeably with little difference between them. 
Plaintiff The plaintiff is the party that initiates, or files a complaint against, another party. The plaintiff is the accusing party, and in civil cases, for instance, they would be the party suing the defendant.
Probate Probate is a situation in which an individual’s property distribution after death  is determined by the court. This occurs most often when an individual dies without having a will or trust to govern their distribution. Probate can be avoided by setting up an estate plan to determine how to distribute your assets upon death. 
Retail Fraud A legal term for shoplifting. This involves removing property from a retail store without paying, or intentionally underpaying, while the store is open to the public. 
Settlor Another word for “creator”, the settlor is the individual who created the trust. In some instances, the settlor may also be a trustee if they are responsible for managing the trust.
Slander A type of defamation referring to verbal statements. 
Statute of Limitations The maximum amount of time that can pass between an incident occurring and the filing of a lawsuit. The Statute of Limitations varies based on the type of incident and where it occurs. In Michigan, for example, the Statute of Limitations on a personal injury is 3 years after the injury. 
Theft A legal term for stealing. This refers to the intentional removal of another individual’s personal property in order to deprive them of the ability to use said property. 
Trustee The individual responsible for managing the trust. If this individual created the trust, they may also be referred to as the settlor.