Working with a lawyer can be very confusing. There is a whole different vocabulary that lawyers use. This is why it is important that if you are working with a lawyer you know what certain terms mean so that you can understand the process. Here are some important legal terms that you need to know.

Civil Court vs. Criminal Court

There are multiple kinds of courts in the United States, but two of the most common are civil and criminal. Many people think that these kinds of courts are the same but they are totally different and even have different rules.

Civil court is when two citizens get in a dispute and try to solve it through the legal system. For instance, if you are sued by your neighbor for building something on their property, they could sue you to civil court. In this case the plaintiff and the defendant are both citizens.

Criminal court is when the state presses charges against someone for a crime. In this case the persecutor is the state, and the defendant is the person that was charged with a crime.

In some cases you could be in civil and criminal court for the same incident. For example, if you were in a car accident while driving under the influence, you could be charge by the state with a DUI and reckless driving. You could also be sued by the family of the injured party for damages and emotional pain and suffering.


An appeal is the process by which you can ask the courts to review their decision against you. This means that if you lost a case, whether in civil or criminal court you can file an appeal. This means that the courts will look at your case and decide if the judgment was correct or false.

The appeal process can be expensive, but if you really believe that the judgment against you was wrong, it might be worth filing an appeal.

Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is when you ask the judge to make a decision on your case based on the evidence presented and avoid a trial. This can help to speed up the process as well as get a quick answer. Most people are only granted summary judgment if it is a cut and dry case or the evidence is pretty clear as to where the fault lies.

By understanding some important legal terms you can be ready to talk to local lawyers through resources like McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C.