Legal Terms

Declaration: An unsworn statement of facts made by a party to the transaction, or by one who has an interest in the facts recounted. 

Default: To fail to respond or answer to the plaintiff’s claims by filing the required court document; usually an Appearance or an Answer. 

Defendant: In civil cases, the person who is given court papers, also called a respondent. In criminal cases, the person who is arrested and charged with a crime. 

Discovery: A formal request by one party in a lawsuit to disclose information or facts known by other parties or witnesses. 

Dismissal: A judge’s decision to end the case. 

Dismissal Without Prejudice: A judges decision to end the case which permits the complainant or prosecutor to renew the case later. In contrast, dismissal “with prejudice” prevents the complainant or prosecutor to bring or maintain the same claim or action again. 

Dispose: Ending a legal case or a judicial proceeding. 

Disposition: The manner in which a case is settled or resolved. 

Dissolution: The legal end of a marriage, also called a divorce. 

Diversionary Programs: Community based programs that are used to keep eligible, convicted criminal offenders out of prison. 

Docket: A list of cases scheduled to be heard in court on a specific day or week. 

Docket Number: A unique number the court clerk assigns to a case. It must be used on all future papers filed in the court case. Each docket number starts with two letters that tell the type of case. CI = criminal infraction; CR = criminal case; CV = civil case; FA = family case; MI = motor vehicle infraction; MV= motor vehicle case; SC = small claims.