English Lawyer and Law Vocabulary

Attorney
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Another name for lawyer. A person who is hired to counsel and manage a case that goes to court.

“My attorney did everything he could to get me off for the crime I was accused of. Unfortunately he is not a very good one and I now have to go to jail.”

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Misdemeanor
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A less serious crime that usually results in less than a year in jail time or no jail time at all.

“Some examples of misdemeanors are stealing a cheap item, being drunk in public and trespassing on private property.”

Felony
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A serious crime that results in over a year in jail. Examples of felonies are murder, rape and kidnapping.

“Now that Sam has committed a felony he is no longer just a street punk. He is a serious criminal.”

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Press charges
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To officially inform the authorities about a crime that was committed against you.

“When my son hit another kid at school his parents had the option to press charges against my boy. Luckily they chose not to and let the school deal with the issue.”

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Defendant
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The person who is being accused of a crime.

“The defendant seems very nervous during the trial. I think he did do the crime.”

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Plaintiff
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The person who files the complaint against the defendant.

“The plaintiff accused that man of attacking him in his front yard. This man is denying any wrong doing.”

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Alibi
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To be in a different location during the time in which the crime was committed. Somebody being accused of a crime will want to have this so he can prove that it was impossible for him to have done the crime.

“John has an alibi for the night of the murder. He was with his mom all night watching a movie. He couldn’t have killed Sara.”

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Cross Examination
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When the lawyer for the opposing side questions the witness in a trial.

“You need to be prepared for the cross examination. Lawyers are notorious for being harsh towards the witness for the opposing attorney.

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Plea Bargain
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An agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor in which the defendant admits to doing the crime so he can get a shorter sentence.

“He was advised to take the plea bargain, but he refused. He was convinced that the jury would find him not guilty.”

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To Sentence
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When the court gives a punishment to the defendant for a crime committed.

“I think the judge will be kind when he sentences you. He didn’t seem to upset about the crime you committed.

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Prosecutor

The lawyer whose job it is to decide who is being tried for the crime committed. He also presents the evidence against this person in court.

“The prosecutor is going to bring up the fact that you have been arrested many times before. He will probably call up witnesses to tell the court about these crimes.

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Subpoena
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The command by the court of the government that a person appears in court at a certain time to give information and answer questions about the matter at hand.

“Mary was subpoenaed to appear in court last year to provide information on what she saw during the attack. She was happy to do it since she wanted the attacker to go to jail.”

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Retain a Lawyer
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The act of employing a lawyer to represent you for whatever reason.

“I decided to not retain a lawyer. I don’t think he will sue me for such a small matter.”

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Testimony
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The evidence given by a witness in court under oath.

“Robert gave his testimony in court about what he knew in regards to the theft.”

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Settlement
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An agreement between the two opposing parties in a certain lawsuit.

“Luckily they were able to reach a settlement before they had to go to court.”

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Ambulance Chaser
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A lawyer who is out to make quick money from a person’s suffering. This lawyer encourages people to sue for anything that happens.

“He has turned into a real ambulance chaser. He takes on the most ridiculous cases.”

Power of Attorney

When a person gives the authorization to another person to act as his attorney.

“My brother has the power of attorney in this matter. He will know what to do.”



Practice Activities:

  • Conversation Activity for Lawyer Expressions
  • Script for Conversation Activity on Lawyer Expressions
  • Lawyer and Law Vocabulary Listening Exercise
  • Lawyer and Law Vocabulary Fill in the Blanks
  • Lawyer and Law Vocabulary Word Order
  • Lawyer and Law Vocabulary Fill in the Blanks
  • Matching for Lawyer Vocabulary