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Glossary


D - 6
A court report to the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles of a person’s failure to appear in court, leading to suspension of the driver’s license.
Damages
Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful act or negligence of another person.
De novo
A trial de novo is a new trial of a case.
Decision
The judgment reached or given by a court of law.
Declaratory judgment
A judgment of the court that explains what the existing law is or expresses the opinion of the court without the need for enforcement.
Decree
An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully and finally disposes of the litigation. An interlocutory decree is a preliminary order that often disposes of only part of a lawsuit.
Defamation
That which tends to injure a person’s reputation. Libel is published defamation, whereas slander is spoken.
Default
A failure to respond to a lawsuit within the specified time.
Default judgment
A judgment entered against a party who fails to appear in court or respond to the charges.
Defendant
In a civil case, the person being sued. In a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
Deferred payment
The court’s granting additional time to pay a fine.
Demand for discovery
Demand by the defense attorney to the State Attorney to furnish material information on a case.
Demanding state
The state seeking return of a fugitive.
Demurrer
A legal attack on a document as to sufficiency.
Dependent Child
A child who is found to be abused, neglected, or abandoned and is placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services. See Florida Statute 39.01(14)
Deposition
An oral statement made before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. Such statements are taken to examine potential witnesses, to obtain discovery, to be used later in trial. Testimony of a witness other than in open court.
Descent and Distribution Statutes
State laws that provide for the distribution of estate property of a person who dies without a will. Same as intestacy laws.
Direct Evidence
Proof of facts by witnesses who saw acts done or heard words spoken.
Direct Examination
The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.
Directed verdict
Now called judgment as a matter of law. An instruction by the judge to the jury to return a specific verdict.
Disbarment
Form of discipline of a lawyer resulting in the loss (often permanently) of that lawyer’s right to practice law. It differs from censure (an official reprimand or condemnation) and from suspension (a temporary loss of the right to practice law.)
Discharge of bond
A court order to release a bond.
Disclaim
To refuse a gift made in a will.
Dismissal
Termination of a lawsuit. A dismissal without prejudice allows a lawsuit to be brought before the court again at a later time. In contrast, a dismissal with prejudice prevents the lawsuit from being brought before a court in the future.
Disposition
The sentencing or other final settlement of a case.
Disposition report to DHSMV
A report to the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles on the court adjudication in a traffic case.
Dissent
To disagree. An appellate court opinion setting forth the minority view and outlining the disagreement of one or more judges with the decision of the majority.
Diversion
The process of removing some minor criminal, traffic or juvenile cases from the full judicial process, on the condition that the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for damages.
DOC
The Department of Corrections - state prison facility.
Docket
A list of cases to be heard by a court or a log containing brief entries of court proceedings.
Docket card or case history
The computer printout of chronological activity in a case.
Docket sounding
The proceeding in which a judge assigns trial dates or takes pleas.
Domicile
The place where a person has his/her permanent legal home. A person may have several residences, but only one domicile.
Double jeopardy
Putting a person on trial more than once for the same crime. It is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Due Process of Law
The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notices, assistance of counsel, and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury and to confront and secure witnesses.