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Most Misunderstood Courthouse Terms, the P’s
Parole – The supervised conditional release of a prisoner before the expiration of his or her sentence. If the parolee observes the conditions of parole, he or she need not serve the rest of his or her term.
Peremptory Challenge – An objection to a juror where no specific reason for the objection is given.
Plea – The formal response of a defendant to a charge. The pleas are: guilty (formal admission to an offense), not guilty (denial of commitment of offense) and no contest (nolo contendere, a Latin phrase meaning “I will not contest it”. Defendant neither admits nor denies the charges. Although considered the same as a guilty plea in a criminal case, a nolo contendere plea cannot be used against the defendant in a civil action based on the same acts.).
Plea Bargain – An agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant. It lets the defendant plead guilty to a less serious charge, if the court approves.
Pleadings – The written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.
Preliminary Hearing – A hearing to determine if there is evidence of a crime and probable cause to believe that the defendant committed it.
Preponderance of Evidence – The standard of proof in a civil case, where the evidence proves that something is more likely to have occurred than not.
Pro Bono – For the public good. When the lawyers represent clients without a fee, they are said to be working pro bono.
Pro Hoc Vice – (Vee-chay) – For this one particular occasion. For example, and out-of-state lawyer may be admitted to practice in a local jurisdiction for a particular case only.
Probation – an alternative to imprisonment allowing a person found guilty of an offense to stay in the community under court-ordered terms and conditions. Formal probation involves probation officer supervision while informal or summary probation does not.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Superior Court 2014
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