Abuser: a person who commits domestic violence, sexual assault, or other crimes against another person.

Alcoholic beverage: wine, beer, hard liquor, or other fermented or distilled liquid, whether made commercially or privately, that is intended for human consumption as a beverage and that contains one-half of one percent or more of alcohol by volume.

Answer: the reply that a defendant in a civil lawsuit makes; the answer admits or denies facts, states defenses, and may include a counterclaim against the plaintiff.

Arrest Warrant:  an order directing a law enforcement (police) officer to arrest and bring a person to court.

Attempt:  in criminal law, an open and intentional act that is done in an unsuccessful effort to commit a crime; an attempt to commit a crime is itself a crime.


Benefits:  financial assistance that is received from an employer, insurance, or a public program in time of sickness, disability or unemployment.  Examples include health care insurance, retirement benefits, social security benefits, military benefits, veterans’ benefits.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt:  the standard used by a jury to decide whether a person is guilty of a crime.

Brief:  a written document setting out the legal arguments of a party to a lawsuit or criminal case; a brief usually contains a summary of facts and legal arguments along with citations to the evidence and the legal authorities.


Chemical breath test: a test, conducted according to methods approved by the Alaska Department of Public Safety, that measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath.

Citation: an order issued by a police officer to appear before a judge on a given date to defend against a less serious charge such as a traffic ticket.

Community work service:  work on projects designed to reduce or eliminate environmental damage, protect the public health, or improve public services, lands, forests, parks, roads, highways, facilities, or education; work that benefits private individuals is not community service.

Complaint: the initial document that starts a civil legal action; the complaint must state the basis for the lawsuit and the relief that is requested in the case.

Consent: Agreement, approval, or permission as to some act or purpose.

Controlled substance:  a drug, substance, or immediate precursor included in the schedules set out in AS 11.71.140 – 11.71.190, or comparable federal statutes.

Corporal punishment:  punishment inflicted on a person’s body, such as spanking, caning, or striking with a hand, belt, or whip.

Credit limit: the maximum amount that a person who obtains a credit card can charge on that card.

Credit report: a report containing a person’s credit history, or record of bills or debts incurred and payments made.

Crime:  an act that is punishable as a criminal offense under the law.

Custody: care and control of a child, including both legal custody under a court order and physical custody.


Defendant: a person who is sued in a civil lawsuit, or accused in a criminal proceeding.

Discipline:  punishment imposed for violations of school rules, or penalties that are intended to correct misbehavior.

Discovery:  court procedures that allow parties to learn facts that relate to lawsuits.  The primary discovery procedures are interrogatories, requests for production of documents, depositions, and requests for admissions.

Domestic partner:  a person who is living with another person in a relationship that is like a marriage but that is not a legal marriage.

Dress code: a written set of rules describing acceptable and unacceptable clothing for school wear.

Due process or due process of law: procedural steps intended to assure fairness in any disciplinary proceeding; at a minimum, due process includes a right to be notified about what a person is accused of, and a hearing before an impartial decision-maker.


Emancipated:  for a minor, being freed of the control and support of a parent or guardian.

Equitable: fair and just, consistent with principles of righteousness.

Exploitation:  taking unjust advantage of someone, for example, using children to perform long hours of work at low wages.


Felony:  a serious crime usually punishable by a prison or jail sentence of more than one year or by death.

Firearm:  a weapon designed to discharge a shot that can cause death or serious physical injury; includes a pistol, revolver, rifle, or shotgun, whether loaded or unloaded, even if not in working condition.

Freedom of speech:  the right to express thoughts or opinions without governmental restriction, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


Good cause:  a legally sufficient reason.

Grand Jury:  a body of people who are chosen to sit permanently for at least a month and decide whether to issue indictments.

Gratuities:  gifts or money given voluntarily; tips received by a waiter at a restaurant are a form of gratuity.

Guardian:  a person who has the legal authority and duty to care for another person or the property of another person.


Immunization:  giving shots or orally dispensed vaccines to produce immunity against a disease; also called “inoculation” or “vaccination.”

Impartial:  unbiased, disinterested; a person who has no personal interest in the outcome of a hearing or other proceeding is impartial.

Independent contractor:  a person who provides services not as an employee, but as a business person who chooses his or her own method for accomplishing contracted work.

Indictment: the formal written accusation of a crime, made by a grand jury and presented to a court for prosecution against the accused person.

Inhalant: a material or substance that easily becomes a gas at room temperature; an inhalant is dangerous to the life or health of a person who inhales or “sniffs” the gas; inhalants include gasoline, other petroleum distillates; and common household materials like spray paint or cleaning fluids.

Inherit: receive property under a will or state laws from a parent, relative, or other person on the death of that person.

Intrusive: an unwelcome entering or interfering without consent.


Juvenile delinquent:  a person under the age of 18 guilty of serious antisocial or criminal behavior.


Lawsuit or “suit:”  a proceeding by a party or parties against others in a court of law.

Lease: a contract in which the owner of property gives another person the right to use and occupy the property.

Liability insurance:  insurance that pays damages the insured person may be responsible to pay because of an injury to another person or another person’s property.


Maternity leave:  a leave of absence from a job when a woman has a child.

Misdemeanor:  a crime that is less serious than a felony, and is most often punished by a fine, penalty, forfeiture, or brief confinement.

Motion: a request, usually in writing, to a court to make a ruling or issue an order described in the motion.


Overtime:  hours worked by employees beyond a standard workday or work week set by law; also means the extra pay earned or paid for overtime work.


Parties:  the persons involved in a legal action, including a petitioner or plaintiff, and a respondent or defendant.

Paternity: fatherhood; when a child’s father is not known, DNA testing can establish a high probability of paternity by identifying a match of genetic markers.

Plaintiff: the party who brings a civil suit in a court of law.

Pornography:  writings, photographs, movies or other materials showing sexual activities or other erotic behavior in a way designed to arouse sexual excitement.

Preponderance of the evidence:  the greater weight of the evidence, established by evidence that is most convincing.

Probable cause:  a reasonable ground to suspect that a person has committed or is committing a crime or that a place contains specific items connected with a crime.

Proof of insurance:  a card or document from an insurance company showing that it has issued an insurance policy that covers an automobile or the driver.

Prosecutor:  a legal officer who represents the government in criminal proceedings.


Refusal:  the denial or rejection of something offered or demanded.

Rehabilitate:  the process of seeking to improve a criminal’s character and outlook so that person can function in society without committing other crimes.

Relief:  the remedy, such as money damages, that a party to a lawsuit asks the court to grant if the ruling is in that party’s favor.

Rescind: cancel (usually a contract); annul, or repeal.

Restitution: payment of money or other benefit based on a wrongful act committed against that person.


Search Warrant:  a judge’s written order allowing a law enforcement (police) officer to search a place and take any evidence that is found there.

Security deposit:  money a renter or tenant gives to a landlord to hold while the tenant occupies leased property; the security deposit will be used to pay for any unreasonable damage to the leased property, or will be returned when the tenant vacates if all rent due has been paid.

Settlement agreement:  an agreement, usually in writing, that identifies all the issues in a divorce or other legal dispute, and describes how the parties have agreed to resolve them.

Small claims: civil lawsuits requesting money damages less than $10,000 and conducted under the court’s small claims rules.

Spouse:  a person’s husband or wife in a lawful marriage.

Summons:  A notice requiring a person to appear in court.

Suppress: To put a stop to, put down, or prohibit; to prevent (something) from being seen, heard, known, or discussed.


Trial: a formal judicial proceeding in which parties to a civil lawsuit or criminal case present testimony and other evidence and arguments in support of their positions.

Truant: staying away from school without excuse or permission, or a person who is truant.


Underage:  younger than the legal age for a particular purpose, such as buying tobacco (under 19 in Alaska), or voting (under 18).

Unreasonable search and seizure:  a search and taking of evidence or property without a warrant, probable cause, or other justification.


Vaccination:  see “immunization.”

Victim: a person harmed by a crime, including domestic violence and sexual assault.

Visual screen device:  a television, video monitor, portable computer, or any other similar device capable of providing a visual display that is in full view of a driver in a normal driving position while the vehicle is in motion; it is a crime to drive a vehicle with a screen device operating.

Voucher: a written authorization for money to be paid on one person’s behalf to another person for a specific purpose, such as housing or schooling.


Wanton waste:  intentionally failing to salvage edible meat of a game animal or a wild fowl for human food, or wasting a fisheries resource, such as salmon.