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What do Lawyers Mean When They Say

Who, What, Where, When, Why

Defense lawyers love to use abbreviations (and acronyms) in court. It generally helps to quickly get everyone on the same page, therefore not requiring complicated explanations of things.

Think of it as “legal shorthand.”

While its purpose is speed up the process, it also can be a bit confusing if you’re not an attorney or have little experience with the criminal courts system in North Carolina.

Indeed, you may be scratching your head, asking, “What do defense lawyers mean when they say…” about a lot of the different legal terms used in court.

There is a language of law in court, where the legal professionals including the Clerk of Court, deputies, probation officers, etc., all understand, at least as to the process, the definition of and what is meant by those terms.

That’s what is meant by “terms of art,” it’s also why we use a lot of abbreviations for the sake of expediency. Everyone in the system, including judges, prosecutors, and criminal defense lawyers understand how little time we have in court.

Judges prefer when defense attorneys (and prosecutors) speak succinctly, quickly getting to the point, thus preserving valuable court time.

It can be a delicate balance between brevity and making certain both legal rights are protected and the individual aspects of the case are understood by his or her Honor (the presiding judge).

There are also certain titles for the different people in the courtroom, including “honorifics.”

While the defense attorney is normally referred to by their last name or “counsel for the Defendant” or just “counsel,” it’s proper, when addressing the judge to say “Your Honor.”

Both defense lawyers and judges may refer to the prosecutor as “the State” or “the Assistant District Attorney” or the “ADA.”

Old school judges, as much as a matter of humor as habit, may occasionally address the ADA as the “solicitor” or “Mr. Solicitor.”

If you have pending criminal charges, you too may have a title such as “the accused” or “the Defendant.”

In some jurisdictions, especially ones like Charlotte, Statesville, Mooresville, and Monroe NC with substantial caseloads, the District Attorney, in announcing the next matter in “open court,” may refer everyone one to, “Number xxx on the printed docket,” giving also the Defendant’s last name.

Use of the docket number itself, rather than announcing the formal case number and case name, which may be 10 or more digits and letters long, is also intended to speed things up, e.g. North Carolina vs. Ian T. Pleading, case number 22-CRS-123456.

And while all that may make criminal court more efficient, it certainly provides the opportunity to confuse the person facing criminal charges who neither knows the law or the legal lingo.

Our courts are often bustling, loud places, with people walking in and out of the courtroom handling their matters.

It can be difficult to hear the proceedings, especially with jail cells and their heavy doors opening and closing, chains and handcuffs on prisoners rattling, and lawyers speaking with one another to work through the caseload.

The best criminal defense lawyers I know take every opportunity to explain how the system works. That includes providing information on the legal terms and what is meant by things like PC or Probable Cause and Reasonable Doubt.” Bill Powers, 25+ Years of Courtroom Experience

We work within the legal system on a daily basis. We went to law school to learn the complexities of the system. It can be very easy to assume everyone understands what we’re talking about.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Most lawyers don’t know squat about the medical field. We need medical terms explained to us, just like people unfamiliar with the criminal justice system need legal terms explained to them.

Should I hire a lawyer

Explaining things is as much part of our job as knowing the law. Obviously, the longer you’ve practiced as an attorney, and the more experience you have with the criminal laws in NC, the easier that is to do.

Therefore, it’s imperative we, as defense attorneys, slow down, explain the legal terms and court system to clients. A substantial and important aspect of legal representation involves one-on-one contact with people facing criminal charges and share what we know.

It doesn’t matter if you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, we want to make sure you understand the legal terms, our legal advice, and why we may recommend accepting a plea offer, pleading guilty or not guilty, or working with a deferred prosecution program, as the case may be.

Call Bill Powers – Criminal Defense Lawyers in NC

The Powers Law Firm PA provides a FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION for people facing criminal charges. We provide legal representation in:

  • Charlotte in Mecklenburg County
  • Monroe in Union Couty NC
  • Statesville and Mooresville in Iredell County
  • Gastonia in Gaston County, North Carolina

We help people throughout North Carolina with serious felony charges including Murder and Manslaughter, Sex Crimes, Trafficking Drug Charges and Possession Charges.

Our attorneys also regularly appear as legal counsel in the Charlotte metro region and surrounding judicial districts for DWI charges (“DUI charges” and “drunk driving charges”), Death by Vehicle, and Domestic Violence charges for Assault on a Female, Communicating Threats, and Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

Call NOW: 704-342-4357 or email Bill Powers at: Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com

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