Courtrooms job is to provide a place for the plaintiff and defendant to resolve their differences. Plaintiff: The person or group filing a lawsuit. Defendant: person being sued Judge: listens to lawsuit and makes a final decision.
Family matters (Divorce or Child support) Property disputes Breach or failure to uphold a contract
1.) Bringing Suit: A lawyer is hired and he files a complaint (a formal statement naming the plaintiff and defendant and explaining the nature of the lawsuit) 2.) The Court sends the defendant a summons: (a document telling him to appear in court on a given date and time.)
3.) The Defendant’s response: this persons attorney may file an “answer” to the complaint by admitting to charges or denying charges. The complaint and the answer together are called the pleadings. At this time, each sides lawyer has the chance to question the other party. This process is called discovery.
4.) Pretrial Discussions: the judge who is hearing the case can request to have pretrial discussions to get a clear understanding of each side before the actual trial.
Most civil cases “settle” outside of court. Maybe one side realizes, in pretrial discussions, that their case is weak Or maybe it is during the “discovery” step as cost begin to build up and people become more willing to compromise.
5.) Trial: if there is no settlement before, the case goes to trial. (most of the time a judge will hear civil cases without a jury) Plaintiff presents its side Defendant will then present its side. After all the evidence is presented, the judge determines his verdict, or decision.
The government charges someone with a crime. The government is always the prosecution, which is the party who starts the legal proceedings against someone for a violation of the law. A crime: an act that breaks a federal or state criminal law and causes harm to people or the society.
Misdemeanor: a minor violation to the law such as vandalism, writing bad checks, or stealing something of little cost. Person may be fined or sentenced to jail for a year or less. Felony: A major or serious violation of the law. Person may be imprisoned for one year to life, or in murder cases, punishment by death.
1.) Criminal cases begin when a police officer arrest someone. Look on Page 371 in your textbook. Locate the paragraph about the rights of someone who has just been arrested.
2.) Preliminary Hearing: After the arrest, the person must appear before a judge. Bail is set
3.) Indictment: A grand jury or a judge hears evidence and formally charges the person with the crime. 4.) Arraignment: Defendant pleads guilty or not guilty to the charges and a trial date is set.
5.)Trial: The defense gets to work by interviewing witnesses, studying the laws and gathering information. The jury is chosen and hears from each lawyer on both sides of the case. Each side calls witnesses to testify. After a witness testifies, the other side is allowed to cross-examine the witness.
6.) Verdict: The judge and jury releases their decision. Not Guilty: Acquittal is a vote of not guilty and the defendant is immediately released Guilty: The defendant is found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. If the jury cannot come up with a decision, the judge declares a “hung jury” or a mistrial.