Definitions 

Definitions of selected court terms:

Citation/Complaint:   May also be referred to as a Uniform Citation and Complaint (UCC).  This is an official summons and formal charging instrument issued by a legal authority to appear before a magistrate or a judge at a later time.

Appearance:   When a defendant answers or responds to a matter pending before the court and the results of that appearance.  An appearance may be in person, by mail or by fax.

Hearings:   A session to decide a fact or a law.  It is a proceeding where evidence is considered to determine the facts and to render decisions based on that evidence.

Trial:   The determination of a person's guilt or innocence by due process of law.  At a trial, a representative from law enforcement and the defendant will appear before the court.  Trials may be held before a judge, a jury (civil cases only), or by a sworn affidavit.

Sentence:   The judgment formally imposed by the judge upon the defendant after conviction, usually in the form of a fine, incarceration or probation.

Payment agreement:   Negotiated or assigned agreement between the defendant and Court to pay financial obligations.

Failure to appear:   A defendant's failure to answer as ordered by the court.

Guilty by default:   When a defendant does not appear/answer as ordered by the Court.

Warrant:   A written order of court which commands a law enforcement officer to arrest a person and bring the person before the court.

Suspension:   Court order that withholds the defendant's driving privileges.

Contempt:   The process where a new charge of contempt of court is filed due to a defendant's failure to appear or failure to comply with conditions of a sentence (e.g., failure to attend court ordered traffic school).

Show Cause:   An order requiring the defendant to appear in court to answer allegations of failure to pay monetary obligations or failure to comply with conditions of a sentence or deferred prosecution, diversion or probation.

Appeal:   A request for review of a case or particular issue to a higher court (Circuit Court) for review and possible reversal.

Fees:   Monetary amount assessed on each fine or forfeiture amount and mandated by state law or agency policy.  Priority of collection, distribution, waivers and adjustments of fines and fees are also governed by state law, city or county ordinance, agency policy or judge's ruling.

Financial Judgment:   The court's determination of monetary obligation of the defendant which includes fines and fees.

NSF Checks:   Checks returned by the bank due to insufficient funds, closed accounts, or stop payment orders.

Garnishments:   Claims on property or money held by a third party in order to satisfy a debt.

Small Claim/Civil:   A legal process to expeditiously adjudicate claims that seek damages below a specified amount as set by statute.  Effective October 1, 2011, that amount is $10,000 or below.

Civil Eviction (FED):   The process of legally dispossessing a person of land or rental property.