Terms Used In Florida Statutes > Chapter 34 - County Courts
Abandoned: means a situation in which the parent or legal custodian of a child or, in the absence of a parent or legal custodian, the person responsible for the child's welfare, while being able, makes no provision for the child's support and makes no effort to communicate with the child, which situation is sufficient to evince a willful rejection of parental obligations. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Abuse: means any willful act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Adjudicatory hearing: means a hearing for the court to determine whether or not the facts support the allegations stated in the petition as is provided for under…. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Advice and consent: Under the Constitution, presidential nominations for executive and judicial posts take effect only when confirmed by the Senate, and international treaties become effective only when the Senate approves them by a two-thirds vote.
Affidavit: A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.
Allegation: something that someone says happened.
Amendment: A proposal to alter the text of a pending bill or other measure by striking out some of it, by inserting new language, or both. Before an amendment becomes part of the measure, thelegislature must agree to it.
Amortization: Paying off a loan by regular installments.
Annuity: A periodic (usually annual) payment of a fixed sum of money for either the life of the recipient or for a fixed number of years. A series of payments under a contract from an insurance company, a trust company, or an individual. Annuity payments are made at regular intervals over a period of more than one full year.
Answer: The formal written statement by a defendant responding to a civil complaint and setting forth the grounds for defense.
Appeal: A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the appellant.
Appellate: About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgement of another lower court or tribunal.
Appraisal: A determination of property value.
Appropriation: The provision of funds, through an annual appropriations act or a permanent law, for federal agencies to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. The formal federal spending process consists of two sequential steps: authorization
Arraignment: A proceeding in which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
Arrest: Taking physical custody of a person by lawful authority.
assessment: means the gathering of information for the evaluation of a juvenile offender's or a child's physical, psychological, educational, vocational, and social condition and family environment as they relate to the child's need for rehabilitative and treatment services, including substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, developmental services, literacy services, medical services, family services, and other specialized services, as appropriate. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Assets: (1) The property comprising the estate of a deceased person, or (2) the property in a trust account.
Attachment: A procedure by which a person's property is seized to pay judgments levied by the court.
Bail: Security given for the release of a criminal defendant or witness from legal custody (usually in the form of money) to secure his/her appearance on the day and time appointed.
Bankruptcy: Refers to statutes and judicial proceedings involving persons or businesses that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court in getting a fresh start. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may discharge their debts, perhaps by paying a portion of each debt. Bankruptcy judges preside over these proceedings.
Beneficiary: A person who is entitled to receive the benefits or proceeds of a will, trust, insurance policy, retirement plan, annuity, or other contract. Source: OCC
Capital offense: A crime punishable by death.
Chief judge: The judge who has primary responsibility for the administration of a court but also decides cases; chief judges are determined by seniority.
Child in need of services: means a child for whom there is no pending investigation into an allegation or suspicion of abuse, neglect, or abandonment; no pending referral alleging the child is delinquent; or no current supervision by the Department of Juvenile Justice or the Department of Children and Families for an adjudication of dependency or delinquency. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Clerk of court: An officer appointed by the court to work with the chief judge in overseeing the court's administration, especially to assist in managing the flow of cases through the court and to maintain court records.
Community control: means a form of intensive, supervised custody in the community, including surveillance on weekends and holidays, administered by officers with restricted caseloads. See Florida Statutes 948.001
Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
Corporation: A legal entity owned by the holders of shares of stock that have been issued, and that can own, receive, and transfer property, and carry on business in its own name.
Correctional system: means all prisons and other state correctional institutions now existing or hereafter created under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections. See Florida Statutes 944.02
Counterclaim: A claim that a defendant makes against a plaintiff.
Court reporter: A person who makes a word-for-word record of what is said in court and produces a transcript of the proceedings upon request.
Damages: Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.
Decedent: A deceased person.
Deed: The legal instrument used to transfer title in real property from one person to another.
Defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
delinquent act: means a violation of any law of this state, the United States, or any other state which is a misdemeanor or a felony or a violation of a county or municipal ordinance which would be punishable by incarceration if the violation were committed by an adult. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Dependent: A person dependent for support upon another.
dependent child: means a child who, pursuant to this chapter, is found by the court:
(a) To have been abandoned, abused, or neglected by the child's parents or other custodians. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Deposition: An oral statement made before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. Such statements are often taken to examine potential witnesses, to obtain discovery, or to be used later in trial.
Detention care: means the temporary care of a child in secure, nonsecure, or home detention, pending a court adjudication or disposition or execution of a court order. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Detention center or facility: means a facility used pending court adjudication or disposition or execution of court order for the temporary care of a child alleged or found to have committed a violation of law. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Devise: To gift property by will.
Diligent search: means the efforts of a social service agency to locate a parent or prospective parent whose identity or location is unknown, or a relative made known to the social services agency by the parent or custodian of a child. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Discovery: Lawyers' examination, before trial, of facts and documents in possession of the opponents to help the lawyers prepare for trial.
Dismissal: The dropping of a case by the judge without further consideration or hearing. Source:
Disposition hearing: means a hearing in which the court determines the most appropriate dispositional services in the least restrictive available setting provided for under…. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Docket: A log containing brief entries of court proceedings.
Drug offender probation: means a form of intensive supervision that emphasizes treatment of drug offenders in accordance with individualized treatment plans administered by officers with restricted caseloads. See Florida Statutes 948.001
Effective parole release date: means the actual parole release date as determined by the presumptive parole release date, satisfactory institutional conduct, and an acceptable parole plan. See Florida Statutes 947.005
Entitlement: A Federal program or provision of law that requires payments to any person or unit of government that meets the eligibility criteria established by law. Entitlements constitute a binding obligation on the part of the Federal Government, and eligible recipients have legal recourse if the obligation is not fulfilled. Social Security and veterans' compensation and pensions are examples of entitlement programs.
Equitable: Pertaining to civil suits in "equity" rather than in "law." In English legal history, the courts of "law" could order the payment of damages and could afford no other remedy. See damages. A separate court of "equity" could order someone to do something or to cease to do something. See, e.g., injunction. In American jurisprudence, the federal courts have both legal and equitable power, but the distinction is still an important one. For example, a trial by jury is normally available in "law" cases but not in "equity" cases. Source: U.S. Courts
Escheat: Reversion of real or personal property to the state when 1) a person dies without leaving a will and has no heirs, or 2) when the property (such as a bank account) has been inactive for a certain period of time. Source: OCC
Escrow: Money given to a third party to be held for payment until certain conditions are met.
Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
Ex officio: Literally, by virtue of one's office.
Executor: A male person named in a will to carry out the decedent
Extradition: The formal process of delivering an accused or convicted person from authorities in one state to authorities in another state.
Fair market value: The price at which an asset would change hands in a transaction between a willing, informed buyer and a willing, informed seller.
Family: means a collective body of persons, consisting of a child and a parent, guardian, adult custodian, or adult relative, in which:
(a) The persons reside in the same house or living unit; or
(b) The parent, guardian, adult custodian, or adult relative has a legal responsibility by blood, marriage, or court order to support or care for the child. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Family in need of services: means a family that has a child who is running away; who is persistently disobeying reasonable and lawful demands of the parent or legal custodian and is beyond the control of the parent or legal custodian; or who is habitually truant from school or engaging in other serious behaviors that place the child at risk of future abuse, neglect, or abandonment or at risk of entering the juvenile justice system. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Federal prosecutor: A lawyer appointed by the President in each judicial district to prosecute and defend cases for the federal government.
Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
Fiscal year: The fiscal year is the accounting period for the government. For the federal government, this begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; for example, fiscal year 2006 begins on October 1, 2005 and ends on September 30, 2006.
Foreclosure: A legal process in which property that is collateral or security for a loan may be sold to help repay the loan when the loan is in default. Source: OCC
Forgery: The fraudulent signing or alteration of another's name to an instrument such as a deed, mortgage, or check. The intent of the forgery is to deceive or defraud. Source: OCC
Foster care: means care provided a child in a foster family or boarding home, group home, agency boarding home, child care institution, or any combination thereof. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Fraud: Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.
Garnishment: Generally, garnishment is a court proceeding in which a creditor asks a court to order a third party who owes money to the debtor or otherwise holds assets belonging to the debtor to turn over to the creditor any of the debtor
Gift: A voluntary transfer or conveyance of property without consideration, or for less than full and adequate consideration based on fair market value.
Grand jury: agreement providing that a lender will delay exercising its rights (in the case of a mortgage,
Guardian: A person legally empowered and charged with the duty of taking care of and managing the property of another person who because of age, intellect, or health, is incapable of managing his (her) own affairs.
Habitually truant: means that:
(a) The child has 15 unexcused absences within 90 calendar days with or without the knowledge or justifiable consent of the child's parent or legal guardian, is subject to compulsory school attendance under…. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Home detention: means temporary custody of the child while the child is released to the custody of the parent, guardian, or custodian in a physically nonrestrictive environment under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice staff pending adjudication, disposition, or placement. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Indemnification: In general, a collateral contract or assurance under which one person agrees to secure another person against either anticipated financial losses or potential adverse legal consequences. Source: FDIC
Indictment: The formal charge issued by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to justify having a trial; it is used primarily for felonies.
Injunction: An order of the court prohibiting (or compelling) the performance of a specific act to prevent irreparable damage or injury.
Intake: means the initial acceptance and screening by the Department of Juvenile Justice of a complaint or a law enforcement report or probable cause affidavit of delinquency, family in need of services, or child in need of services to determine the recommendation to be taken in the best interests of the child, the family, and the community. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
Jurisprudence: The study of law and the structure of the legal system.
Lawsuit: A legal action started by a plaintiff against a defendant based on a complaint that the defendant failed to perform a legal duty, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.
Lease: A contract transferring the use of property or occupancy of land, space, structures, or equipment in consideration of a payment (e.g., rent). Source: OCC
Lease-purchase agreement: means an installment sales contract which requires regular payments with an interest charge included and which provides that the lessee receive title to the property upon final payment. See Florida Statutes 944.02
Legal custody: means a legal status created by court order or letter of guardianship which vests in a custodian of the person or guardian, whether an agency or an individual, the right to have physical custody of the child and the right and duty to protect, train, and discipline the child and to provide him or her with food, shelter, education, and ordinary medical, dental, psychiatric, and psychological care. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Liabilities: The aggregate of all debts and other legal obligations of a particular person or legal entity.
Licensed child-caring agency: means a person, society, association, or agency licensed by the Department of Children and Families to care for, receive, and board children. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Lien: A claim against real or personal property in satisfaction of a debt.
Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
Mediation: means a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Mental health probation: means a form of specialized supervision that emphasizes mental health treatment and working with treatment providers to focus on underlying mental health disorders and compliance with a prescribed psychotropic medication regimen in accordance with individualized treatment plans. See Florida Statutes 948.001
Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
Mortgage: The written agreement pledging property to a creditor as collateral for a loan.
Necessary medical treatment: means care that is necessary within a reasonable degree of medical certainty to prevent the deterioration of a child's condition or to alleviate immediate pain of a child. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Nolo contendere: No contest-has the same effect as a plea of guilty, as far as the criminal sentence is concerned, but may not be considered as an admission of guilt for any other purpose.
Nonsecure detention: means temporary custody of the child while the child is in a residential home in the community in a physically nonrestrictive environment under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice pending adjudication, disposition, or placement. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Obligation: An order placed, contract awarded, service received, or similar transaction during a given period that will require payments during the same or a future period.
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability: means an entity designated by joint rule of the Legislature or by agreement between the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. See Florida Statutes 1.01
Oversight: Committee review of the activities of a Federal agency or program.
Parent: means a woman who gives birth to a child and a man whose consent to the adoption of the child would be required under…. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Partnership: A voluntary contract between two or more persons to pool some or all of their assets into a business, with the agreement that there will be a proportional sharing of profits and losses.
person: includes individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. See Florida Statutes 1.01
Personal property: All property that is not real property.
Plea: In a criminal case, the defendant's statement pleading "guilty" or "not guilty" in answer to the charges, a declaration made in open court.
Plea agreement: An arrangement between the prosecutor, the defense attorney, and the defendant in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for special considerations. Source:
Pleadings: Written statements of the parties in a civil case of their positions. In the federal courts, the principal pleadings are the complaint and the answer.
political subdivision: include counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, special road and bridge districts, bridge districts, and all other districts in this state. See Florida Statutes 1.01
Precedent: A court decision in an earlier case with facts and law similar to a dispute currently before a court. Precedent will ordinarily govern the decision of a later similar case, unless a party can show that it was wrongly decided or that it differed in some significant way.
Preliminary hearing: A hearing where the judge decides whether there is enough evidence to make the defendant have a trial.
Presentence report: A report prepared by a court's probation officer, after a person has been convicted of an offense, summarizing for the court the background information needed to determine the appropriate sentence. Source: U.S. Courts
Presumptive parole release date: means the tentative parole release date as determined by objective parole guidelines. See Florida Statutes 947.005
Preventive services: means social services and other supportive and rehabilitative services provided to the parent of the child, the legal guardian of the child, or the custodian of the child and to the child for the purpose of averting the removal of the child from the home or disruption of a family which will or could result in an adjudication that orders the placement of a child into foster care or into the delinquency system or that will or could result in the child living on the street. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Prisoner: means any person who is under civil or criminal arrest and in the lawful custody of any law enforcement official, or any person committed to or detained in any municipal or county jail or state prison, prison farm, or penitentiary, or to the custody of the department pursuant to lawful authority. See Florida Statutes 944.02
Probable cause: A reasonable ground for belief that the offender violated a specific law.
Probation: means a form of community supervision requiring specified contacts with probation officers and other terms and conditions as provided in…. See Florida Statutes 948.001
Probation: A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed.
Probation officers: Screen applicants for pretrial release and monitor convicted offenders released under court supervision.
Prosecute: To charge someone with a crime. A prosecutor tries a criminal case on behalf of the government.
Provisional release date: means the date projected for the prisoner's release from custody as determined pursuant to 1s. See Florida Statutes 947.005
Public defender: Represent defendants who can't afford an attorney in criminal matters.
Qualified practitioner: means a social worker, a mental health counselor, or a marriage and family therapist licensed under chapter 491 who, as determined by rule of the respective board, has the coursework, training, qualifications, and experience to evaluate and treat sexual offenders; a psychiatrist licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459; or a psychologist licensed under chapter 490. See Florida Statutes 947.005
Qualified practitioner: means a social worker, mental health counselor, or a marriage and family therapist licensed under chapter 491 who, as determined by rule of the respective board, has the coursework, training, qualifications, and experience to evaluate and treat sexual offenders; a psychiatrist licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459; or a psychologist licensed under chapter 490. See Florida Statutes 948.001
Quorum: The number of legislators that must be present to do business.
Real property: Land, and all immovable fixtures erected on, growing on, or affixed to the land.
Relative: means a grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, niece, or nephew, whether related by the whole or half blood, by affinity, or by adoption. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Remainder: An interest in property that takes effect in the future at a specified time or after the occurrence of some event, such as the death of a life tenant.
Reporter: Makes a record of court proceedings and prepares a transcript, and also publishes the court's opinions or decisions (in the courts of appeals).
Restitution: The court-ordered payment of money by the defendant to the victim for damages caused by the criminal action.
Reunification services: means social services and other supportive and rehabilitative services provided to the parent of the child, the legal guardian of the child, or the custodian of the child, whichever is applicable; the child; and, where appropriate, the foster parents of the child for the purpose of enabling a child who has been placed in temporary shelter care to return to his or her family at the earliest possible time. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Risk assessment: means an assessment completed by an independent qualified practitioner to evaluate the level of risk associated when a sex offender has contact with a child. See Florida Statutes 947.005
Risk assessment: means an assessment completed by a qualified practitioner to evaluate the level of risk associated when a sex offender has contact with a child. See Florida Statutes 948.001
Safety plan: means a written document prepared by the qualified practitioner, in collaboration with the sex offender, the child's parent or legal guardian, and, when appropriate, the child, which establishes clear roles and responsibilities for each individual involved in any contact between the child and the sex offender. See Florida Statutes 947.005
Safety plan: means a written document prepared by the qualified practitioner, in collaboration with the sex offender, the child's parent or legal guardian, and, when appropriate, the child which establishes clear roles and responsibilities for each individual involved in any contact between the child and the sex offender. See Florida Statutes 948.001
Secure detention: means temporary custody of the child while the child is under the physical restriction of a detention center or facility pending adjudication, disposition, or placement. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Service of process: The service of writs or summonses to the appropriate party.
Settlement: Parties to a lawsuit resolve their difference without having a trial. Settlements often involve the payment of compensation by one party in satisfaction of the other party's claims.
sex offender community control: means a form of intensive supervision, with or without electronic monitoring, which emphasizes treatment and supervision of a sex offender in accordance with an individualized treatment plan administered by an officer who has a restricted caseload and specialized training. See Florida Statutes 948.001
Shelter: means a place for the temporary care of a child who is alleged to be or who has been found to be dependent, a child from a family in need of services, or a child in need of services, pending court disposition before or after adjudication or after execution of a court order. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Staff-secure shelter: means a facility in which a child is supervised 24 hours a day by staff members who are awake while on duty. See Florida Statutes 984.03
State correctional institution: means any prison, road camp, prison industry, prison forestry camp, or any prison camp or prison farm or other correctional facility, temporary or permanent, in which prisoners are housed, worked, or maintained, under the custody and jurisdiction of the department. See Florida Statutes 944.02
Statute: A law passed by a legislature.
Subpoena: A command to a witness to appear and give testimony.
Subpoena duces tecum: A command to a witness to produce documents.
Substance abuse: means using, without medical reason, any psychoactive or mood-altering drug, including alcohol, in such a manner as to induce impairment resulting in dysfunctional social behavior. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Summons: Another word for subpoena used by the criminal justice system.
Taken into custody: means the status of a child immediately when temporary physical control over the child is attained by a person authorized by law, pending the child's release, detention, placement, or other disposition as authorized by law. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Temporary legal custody: means the relationship that a juvenile court creates between a child and an adult relative of the child, adult nonrelative approved by the court, or other person until a more permanent arrangement is ordered. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Tentative release date: means the date projected for the prisoner's release from custody by virtue of gain-time granted or forfeited pursuant to…. See Florida Statutes 947.005
Testify: Answer questions in court.
Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
Tort: A civil wrong or breach of a duty to another person, as outlined by law. A very common tort is negligent operation of a motor vehicle that results in property damage and personal injury in an automobile accident.
Transcript: A written, word-for-word record of what was said, either in a proceeding such as a trial or during some other conversation, as in a transcript of a hearing or oral deposition.
Trial: A hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to give evidence.
Truancy petition: means a petition filed by the superintendent of schools alleging that a student subject to compulsory school attendance has had at least five unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a calendar month or 10 unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a 90-calendar-day period, or has had more than 15 unexcused absences in a 90-calendar-day period. See Florida Statutes 984.03
Trust account: A general term that covers all types of accounts in a trust department, such as estates, guardianships, and agencies. Source: OCC
Trustee: A person or institution holding and administering property in trust.
Verdict: The decision of a petit jury or a judge.
veteran: means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under honorable conditions only or who later received an upgraded discharge under honorable conditions, notwithstanding any action by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs on individuals discharged or released with other than honorable discharges. See Florida Statutes 1.01
Victim advocate: work with prosecutors and assist the victims of a crime.
Victim Impact Statement: A written or spoken statement by the victim or his or her representative about the physical, emotional, and financial impact of a crime on the victim. The statement is given to the court before sentencing.
Writ: A formal written command, issued from the court, requiring the performance of a specific act.
writing: includes handwriting, printing, typewriting, and all other methods and means of forming letters and characters upon paper, stone, wood, or other materials. See Florida Statutes 1.01
youth: means any unmarried person under the age of 18 who has not been emancipated by order of the court and who has been found or alleged to be dependent, in need of services, or from a family in need of services; or any married or unmarried person who is charged with a violation of law occurring prior to the time that person reached the age of 18 years. See Florida Statutes 984.03