Commonly Used Terms United States District Court

If you listen to a lawyer speak you might be forgiven to think that they are speaking a completely foreign language. These professionals like averting plain English so much that some people never really get to understand what they mean.  Some people even joke that lawyers can easily gossip around you in the English language without you hearing anything.  

While this matter might not necessarily be down to lawyers but rather the legal profession as a whole, it is something many people have noticed. Some of the terms used by these professionals require deep understanding of legal lingo to be understood. 

There are people who have attempted to get lawyers talking a language they can understand and push it all the way. However, despite all this there is a significant chance some terms might still survive.  Some of these terms include the defendant and the plaintiff or put in the exact context of the district court, Plaintiff vs. Defendant. These two are some of the words that are less likely to be changed in the legal language.  

Therefore, it is up to everyone to learn what they mean or how they are used before finding themselves confronted by them.  In the interest of deciphering these two words, it is important to define them then proceed to look into how they can be used in district court. 

Who Is a Defendant and Who Is Plaintiff? 

The court terms the plaintiff and defendant are some of the common terms out there.  These terms could be used to refer to almost anyone. In fact, if you ever find yourself in court locked up in a civil case, either of these terms could just be used to refer to you. 

Therefore, it is very important to understand what the two terms mean and what to do when referred to using any. Remember, these are not just terms that are used by lawyers but rather they are also used in district court and the prosecutor could also refer to you.  

Who is a Defendant?

The term defendant is a rather simple word or it refers to something that many people already know.  In the context of a civil case in court, the word defendant is used to mean the person being sued in court.  Put simply, this is the person who has charges to answer and one who could be liable to punishment in case he fails to defend himself properly against the leveled charges.  

Take this case for instance. John lent James sum money which James promised to return after one year.  However, at the end of the year, James not only fails to return the money but also vows never to pay back the money anyway.  

After a long period of follow ups, John realizes that James is less likely to pay him back his money and so he takes him to court. In court John has to avail himself with all material evidence to compel James to pay him back.  In this scenario, James is the defendant since he is the one who is being sued by John. 

Who is a Plaintiff? 

Having looked at the defendant, it is now time to understand who the plaintiff is since these words are used almost together in court. Considering the example above, it is clear a plaintiff is someone who sues another person.  In simple terms, a plaintiff sues a defendant and this is in a civil case. 

The Plaintiff Bears the Burden of Proof

While the Plaintiff is the one who sues the defendant that does not mean automatic liability by the defendant.  The Plaintiff must after taking the defendant to court prove that the defendant is guilty of the charges pressed.  The defendant also has the right to defend himself or herself by either refuting the pressed charges or providing alternative facts to aid his case. 

Regardless of the nature of the case, the Plaintiff can only carry the day if he or she discharges his responsibility of proof accordingly.  If the Plaintiff fails to do this then the court might have no other option but to acquit the defendant. 

The Plaintiff and Defendant are Not Permanent Terms 

There might be someone out there thinking maybe once one is called a Plaintiff or Defendant they carry those terms permanently.  However, that is not the case; these two terms only apply to one case at a time.  This means, a court can only certify one person to be a Plaintiff or defendant in a single case until or unless another case is filed.  

It is even possible for the defendant to sue a plaintiff in another court or even in the same court on a different matter.  In this case, the defendant will become the plaintiff while the Plaintiff will become the defendant.  It is also important to note that these two words majorly apply to civil cases.  

What is a Civil Case?

Having mentioned the phrase civil case many times in the text perhaps it is time to look into what a civil case is.  Civil cases simply mean cases that involve two people where one is trying to sue the other or those caught up in a dispute.  

If as shown above already John is suing James then this case automatically to be called a civil case.  This case can be handled in a court of law but if the two parties come together and agree to settle the matter out of court then that is also acceptable.

This case is different from a criminal case which is simply a case pitting someone against the city.  In most cases criminal cases involve a breach or outright breaking of the law.  In such cases, the option of an out of court settlement is never granted and if found guilty the consequences meted on the guilty person could be severe. 

Wrap Up 

The Plaintiff and Defendant are two common terms that are used in court.  These two terms simply mean a person pressing charges and the person being sued. 

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