Common legal terms include the word "admissible," which refers to the type of evidence that can be legally considered by judges and juries in civil and criminal cases, explains USCourts.gov. Assets designated as security for debt are called "collateral," while "counsel" refers to legal advice or lawyers in a case.
A "class action suit" is a case in which an individual, several people or other entities sue on behalf of an entire class, explains USCourts.gov. However, a district court must find legal elements in the suit that apply to the entire class before it can proceed. Parties in these and other cases have a "burden of proof," which is a responsibility to prove the facts in dispute. Any evidence provided to back competing claims must conform to the specified standard of proof, meaning that it should meet or exceed a certain threshold. In civil cases, the typical threshold is 50 percent and higher, while the phrase "beyond reasonable doubt" is used to describe the standard of proof required in criminal cases.
Cases have to be filed within a certain period of time, and the resulting proceedings must commence by a particular time, explains USCourts.gov. These deadlines are known as "statutes of limitations," and they generally vary by type of case. Trials are typically conducted in public, but in some situations, they are heard "in camera," that is, away from a jury and the public, typically in a judge's private chambers.