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. Welcome to the "Crimes A to Z" section of FindLaw's Criminal Law Center, an alphabetical list of crimes containing definitions for many of the most common crimes. Where available, you will also find a link to your state's criminal statute for the selected crime, as well as any applicable federal criminal law.


Assault / Battery

In most states, an assault/battery is committed when one person 1) tries to or does physically strike another, or 2) acts in a threatening manner to put another in fear of immediate harm. Many states declare that a more serious or "aggravated" assault/battery occurs when one 1) tries to or does cause severe injury to another, or 2) causes injury through use of a deadly weapon. Historically, laws treated the threat of physical injury as "assault", and the completed act of physical contact or offensive touching as "battery," but many states no longer differentiate between the two.

Conspiracy

A criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act, then take some action toward its completion. The action taken need not itself be a crime, but it must indicate that those involved in the conspiracy knew of the plan and intended to break the law. One person may be charged with and convicted of both conspiracy and the underlying crime based on the same circumstances.

For example, Andy, Dan, and Alice plan a bank robbery. They 1) visit the bank first to assess security, 2) pool their money and buy a gun together, and 3) write a demand letter. All three can be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, regardless of whether the robbery itself is actually attempted or completed.Learn About the Law

Disorderly Conduct

Almost every state has a disorderly conduct law that makes it a crime to be drunk in public, to "disturb the peace", or to loiter in certain areas. Many types of obnoxious or unruly conduct may fit the definition of disorderly conduct, as such statutes are often used as "catch-all" crimes. Police may use a disorderly conduct charge to keep the peace when a person is behaving in a disruptive manner, but presents no serious public danger.Learn About the Law

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to physical harm inflicted on one member of a household or family, by another member of the same household or family (usually between spouses). Domestic violence (sometimes called "spousal abuse") usually involves repetitive physical and psychological abuse, and a "cycle of violence". Specific crimes charged vary based on 1) severity of the victim's injuries, 2) whether a minor was present, and 3) whether a protective or restraining order was violated.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Knowing the definition of domestic violence can help you take action against it. What kind of behavior is considered domestic violence?

Domestic violence can take a number of forms, including: physical behavior (slapping, punching, pulling hair or shoving)forced or coerced sexual acts or behavior (unwanted fondling or intercourse, or sexual jokes and insults)threats (threatening to hit, harm or use a weapon)psychological abuse (attacks on self-esteem, attempts to control or limit another person's behavior, repeated insults or interrogation)stalking (following a person, appearing at a person's home or workplace, making repeated phone calls or leaving written messages), orcyberstalking (repeated online action or email that causes substantial emotional distress).

Typically, many kinds of abuse go on at the same time in a household. Are TROs and emergency protective orders available only when the abuser is a spouse?

No, in most states, the victim of an abusive live-in lover can obtain a TRO or emergency protective order. In a few states, the victim of any adult relative, an abusive lover (non-live-in) or even a roommate can obtain such an order. To learn about your state's rule, contact a local crisis intervention center, social service organization or battered women's shelter. 
 
Programs for Abusive Men
A number of programs have been established to help abusive men change their behavior. You can get more information from the following organizations:

Abusive Men Exploring New Directions (AMEND)
2727 Bryant Street, Suite 350
Denver, CO 80211
303-832-6363
www.amendinc.org

EMERGE: A Men's Counseling Service
2380 Massachusetts Ave. #101
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-547-9879
www.emergedv.com

Domestic Violence: Background

Domestic violence consists of acts committed in the context of an adult intimate relationship. It is a continuance of aggressive and controlling behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, that one adult intimate does to another. Domestic violence is purposeful and instrumental behavior directed at achieving compliance from, or control over, the abused party. It is one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States, and the Department of Justice in 1998 estimated that there are between 960,000 and four million domestic incidents each year. In 1994, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that about 92 percent of domestic violence cases involve female victims.

Legal definitions of domestic violence are usually delineated by the relationship between the parties and by the nature of the perpetrator's abusive behaviors. For example, the relationship may be a current spouse, a former spouse, a family member, a child, parents of a child in common, unmarried persons of different genders living as spouses, intimate partners of the same gender, dating relationships, and persons offering refuge. Such definitions recognize that victims may not be exclusively women, and domestic assaults may not just occur between heterosexual couples. The types of behavior frequently encountered in domestic violence are physical attacks, sexual attacks, psychological abuse, and the destruction of property or pets.

Domestic Violence: History of Police Responses

Police responses to domestic violence have historically been clouded by notions, for example, the idea that a wife is the "property" of a husband and he has the right to carry out whatever behavior is necessary to "keep her in line." This idea and others like it reflect attitudes held by the greater society. Further aggravating the situation was the perception that domestic violence is not "real police work," and such disputes are private matters that should be kept within the household. Prior to 1980, when domestic situations were brought to the attention of police, calls were often diverted by dispatchers, given a lower priority, or officers responded to the scene and departed again as quickly as possible without achieving any type of meaningful intervention. Laws such as the "rule of thumb" (whereby it was legal for a husband to beat his wife with a stick not wider than his thumb) were still on the books until very recent times.

Prior to the 1980s, the practice of police agencies was to use mediation in domestic incidents. But ironically, much of this so-called mediation was done only when only one spouse was present. Several prominent court cases helped change legislation. In 1972, Ruth Bunnell was killed as a result of police non-intervention. The case of wrongful death against the City of San Jose was dismissed in the California Court of Appeals but received much publicity. In 1985, a jury verdict awarded $2.3 million in favor of plaintiff Tracy Thurman who sued the Torrington, CT, police department after they repeatedly failed to arrest her abusive husband (Thurman v. City of Torrington, 1985). Her husband eventually caused her serious bodily injury.

Another landmark case is currently being heard in the California courts system. In 1996, Maria Macias was killed by her estranged husband after an order of protection was not enforced by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department. The victim had requested help from the department on 22 occasions. The lower courts held that women have a constitutional right to safety and equal protection, and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department provided inadequate police protection based on the victim's status as a woman and a victim of domestic violence. The case is due to be heard in April, 2002 in the Appeals Court of California (99-15662).

Beginning in the late 1980s, there were many attempts to change the way police departments intervened in domestic violence situations. Inspired by Sherman's Minneapolis experiment, many police agencies adopted preferred or mandatory arrest policies. Arrest both acknowledges that society views domestic violence as a criminal offense and also provides immediate safety for the victim. Accompanying these new arrest policies were civil proceedings (discussed below). Domestic Violence

Firearms and Domestic Violence

Firearms and the Violence Against Women Act

Under the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it is illegal for individuals who have been convicted of a domestic-violence related incident -- or who have an order of protection against them -- to possess a firearm. Specifically, federal law prohibits the shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition. Military and law enforcement personnel are not exempt from this law, even if they carry weapons when they are on duty. Questions about this policy should be directed to local branches of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Firearms and Restraining Orders

Under federal law, it is illegal for a person to possess a firearm while subject to a court order restraining such a person from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner. It is also illegal to transfer a firearm to a person subject to a court order that restrains such a person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner.

Firearms and Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Convictions

As of September 30, 1996, federal law makes it illegal to possess a firearm after conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. This prohibition applies to persons convicted of such misdemeanors at any time, even if the conviction occurred prior to the new law's effective date. Further, The Gun Control Act of 1994, which was amended in 1996, also makes it illegal to possess a firearm and/or ammunition if the individual is subject to an order of protection or if the individual has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic assault.

Stalking and Domestic Violence

Domestic violence situations may also involve stalking of the victim by an estranged partner. Stalking usually involves: Repeated threatening or harassing behaviors, such as phone calls, Following or shadowing a person, Appearing at a person's home or place of employment, Vandalizing property, and Any other activity that makes a person fear for his or her safety.

Stalking laws vary greatly from state to state, with some requiring a minimum of two acts (or other proof that the event was not an isolated occurrence) and others specifying that the threat of harm must be imminent. Some states also classify activities such as lying-in-wait, surveillance, and non-consensual communication as stalking.

In its 1998 research on state codes and stalking, the National Institute of Justice defined stalking as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear," with "repeated" meaning on two or more occasions. There are three types of stalking: Erotomania, which is often committed by a female and is a delusional obsession with a public figure or someone out of the stalker's reach; Love obsessional, which involves an individual stalking someone with whom they think they are in love; and Simple obsessional, which is stalking by someone the victim knows.

Domestic violence stalking fits into this last category and is usually perpetrated by an ex-spouse or lover, employer or co-worker. 

Federal Domestic Violence Legislation: The Violence Against Women Act

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), with additions passed in 1996, outlined grant programs to prevent violence against women and established a national domestic violence hotline. In addition, new protections were given to victims of domestic abuse, such as confidentiality of new address and changes to immigration laws that allow a battered spouse to apply for permanent residency.

According to the VAWA Act, a domestic violence misdemeanor is one in which someone is convicted for a crime "committed by an intimate partner, parent, or guardian of the victim that required the use or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon" (Section 922 (g)[9]). Under these guidelines, an intimate partner is a spouse, a former spouse, a person who shares a child in common with the victim, or a person who cohabits or has cohabited with the victim.

Another area this act addresses is interstate traveling for the purposes of committing an act of domestic violence or violating an order of protection. A convicted abuser may not follow the victim into another state, nor may a convicted abuser force a victim to move to another state. Previously, orders of protection issued in one jurisdiction were not always recognized in another jurisdiction. The VAWA specifies full faith and credit to all orders of protection issued in any civil or criminal proceeding, or by any Indian tribe, meaning that those orders can be fully enforced in another jurisdiction. Forty-seven states have now passed legislation that recognizes orders of protection issued in other jurisdictions. Three states, Alaska, Montana, and Pennsylvania, require that an out of state order be filed with an in state jurisdiction before the order can be enforced.

There are several landmark cases that have been decided under these new interstate provisions. For example, in United States v. Rita Gluzman (NY), the defendant traveled from New Jersey to New York with the intention of killing her estranged husband. The weapons she took with her were used in the murder. Gluzman was convicted for this crime. In United States v. Mark A. Sterkel (1997), the defendant was convicted of interstate stalking after traveling from Utah to Arizona to threaten his former boss.

The VAWA also allows victims of domestic abuse to sue for damages in civil court. However, this part of the VAWA was recently overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brzonkala v. Morrison (2000) in which the court held that Congress did not have the authority to implement such a law.

Another goal of the VAWA was to influence state legislators, particularly in regard to arrest policy for domestic situations. In order to receive Federal funding, states must adopt certain responses. The Act reads: VAWA 1994: (1) To implement mandatory arrest or pro-arrest programs and policies in police departments, including mandatory arrest programs and policies for protection order violations (Part U, SEC. 2101). This act has had a profound effect on state laws governing domestic abuse.

State Domestic Violence Legislation

Until about ten years ago, many states still had laws that required a police officer to witness an assault before making an arrest. Today, without having witnessed the event, officers in all states can arrest someone they suspect has committed a domestic assault. The majority of states have adopted preferred arrest policies which require police to either arrest one or both parties at the scene, or write a report justifying why an arrest is not made. Arrest policies do differ by jurisdiction, even in the same state. Some states -- such as New York, Wisconsin, and Minnesota -- have adopted mandatory arrest policies which dictate that an officer must make an arrest at a domestic situation. Such policies were adopted after it was realized how serious domestic situations could be for the victims and their children. An arrest is usually made after the following conditions have been satisfied:There is probable cause that a crime was committed;The suspect and the victim fit the definition of having a domestic relationship;The suspect's alleged act fits the definition of domestic assault;There is reason to believe that the domestic abuse will continue if the suspect is not arrested and/or there is evidence of injury;The incident was reported within 28 days of occurrence.

Usually, if none of these conditions are satisfied, the officer may use his or her discretion in deciding whether to make an arrest. Although different states have variations on definitions of domestic violence, most are similar to the following example.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to physical harm inflicted on one member of a household or family, by another member of the same household or family (usually between spouses). Domestic violence (sometimes called "spousal abuse") usually involves repetitive physical and psychological abuse, and a "cycle of violence". Specific crimes charged vary based on 1) severity of the victim's injuries, 2) whether a minor was present, and 3) whether a protective or restraining order was violated.

Stalking

Stalking laws in most states pertain to a relatively new crime involving a clear pattern of conduct in which the offender follows, harasses, or threatens another person, putting that person in fear for his or her safety. An individual may be charged with stalking regardless of any pre-existing relationship with the victim. Stalking victims can range from celebrities to former spouses who have obtained a protective order against their ex.

For example, Dan spends a number of hours each week harassing Victoria, his former girlfriend, by following her home from work, sending her threatening emails, and calling her in the middle of the night.Learn About the Law.

Domestic Violence Organizations

American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence
740 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005-1022 USA
URL: http://www.abanet.org

Family Violence Department of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
P.O. Box 89507
Reno, NV 89507 USA
Toll-Free: 800-527-3223
URL: http://www.ncjfcj.org/content/view/20/94/

Family Violence Prevention Fund
383 Rhode Island Street, Suite 304
San Francisco, CA 94103-5133 USA
Phone: (415) 252-8900
Fax: (415) 252-8991
URL: http://endabuse.org

Immigrant Women Program of NOW Legal Defense Fund
1522 K St., NW
Washington, DC 20005 USA
Phone: (202) 326-0004
URL: http://www.legalmomentum.org/legalmomentum/programs/iwp/

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1532 16th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 745-1211
Fax: (202) 745-0088
URL: http://www.ncadv.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline
P.O. Box 161810
Austin, TX 78716 USA
Toll-Free: 800-799-SAFE
Toll-Free: 800-787-3224
URL: http://www.ndvh.org/

Safe Work Coalition
395 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014 USA
Phone: (212) 925-6635
Fax: (212) 226-1066
URL: http://www.safeatworkcoalition.org

Domestic Violence Resources

This glossary is intended to give only simple definitions of some words used frequently by the Office of Administrative Hearings. In addition to this glossary, you should look at the statutes, regulations, or other law to see if there is a more specific legal definition of a word or phrase in the context of your hearing.

-- A -- Adjudicative Proceeding
See Administrative Hearing.

Adjudication
Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants to come to a decision which determines rights and obligations between the parties involved. Three types of disputes are resolved through adjudication: disputes between private parties, such as individuals or corporations; disputes between private parties and public officials; and disputes between public officials or public bodies.

Administrative Hearing
A hearing, generally conducted by an administrative law judge, involving an agency (such as the Department of Social and Health Services or the Employment Security Department) and one or more other parties . Administrative Hearings are not as formal as hearings held by judges in court. The rules of most Administrative Hearings in Washington are found in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Model Rules of Procedure for Administrative Hearings , although each agency may also have more specific regulations governing the hearing.

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
The person who conducts administrative hearings. The Office of Administrative Hearings employs approximately 70 administrative law judges in different offices throughout the state to conduct administrative hearings.

Administrative Procedure Act (APA)
This is a statute (Chapter 34.05 RCW) governing most administrative hearings in Washington. In addition to the Administrative Procedure Act, each agency may have more specific statutes or rules governing hearings.

Click here to access the Administrative Procedure Act online .

Administrative Record
The official record of an administrative hearing. This will usually consist of pleadings (such as notice of an action and a request for hearing), hearing exhibits , testimony given under oath, and arguments of the parties . The administrative law judge or other decision-maker is permitted to consider only the administrative record, as well as the law applicable to the case.

Affidavit
A statement made under oath and notarized by a Notary Public . Generally, a sworn statement may also be made in a Declaration , which does not require a Notary Public.

ALJ
See Administrative Law Judge .

Amendment
A change, such as to a law or contract.

APA
See Administrative Procedure Act .

Appeal
A request to change a decision or order. Usually an appeal will seek review of the decision by a different decision-maker. For example, a party may appeal the decision of an agency, and this may result in an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge . A party may appeal the decision of an Administrative Law Judge, and this may result in review by the agency or by the superior court. The rules governing appeals vary depending on the decision being appealed, and usually involve strict deadlines.

Appellant
One of the parties to a case. The appellant is called this because he or she is appealing an action or a decision. The other parties might be called the respondent , or might be an administrative agency. 

-- B -- Brief
A written argument. 

-- C -- Caption
The heading of each legal document that contains the name of the agency or court, the names of the parties , the docket number, and the name of the document itself.

Claimant
A person making a claim. For example, in hearings involving the Employment Security Department, the party who has made a claim for unemployment benefits is called the claimant.

Commencement
Start, beginning.

Complaint
A formal document in which a person or administrative agency alleges facts and states what the person is asking for, such as a penalty imposed against someone else.

Continuance
Postponing the hearing to a later date.

Cross-examination
Asking questions of the other party or the other party's witness after their direct testimony is finished. 

-- D -- DCS
See Division of Child Support .

Declaration
A written statement that the signer swears under penalty of perjury is true.

Default
Loss of the right to participate in a hearing or challenge a decision, such as for failure to timely appeal a decision or to appear at the hearing.

Direct testimony
Statements made under oath by a party or the party's witness. After a party or witness testifies, the other party has the right to ask questions on cross examination . After that, the administrative law judge might ask if there is any "re-direct", meaning "Do have any more direct testimony in light of questions asked on cross-examination?"

Discovery
Exchange of information, such as exhibits and information about what the testimony will be, prior to a hearing.

Discretion
The administrative law judge's freedom to decide an issue. Some issues are clearly decided by law, and the administrative law judge is said to have very little or no discretion. On other issues the administrative law judge might be said to have wide discretion.

Division of Child Support
Division of the Department of Social and Health Services that helps one parent or custodian collect child support from the other parent. Formerly known as the Office of Support Enforcement.

DSHS
Department of Social and Health Services

-- E -- Equitable Estoppel
A legal doctrine that bars (stops) a person (or other entity, such as an administrative agency) from having a legal right based on the person's prior act or conduct. This doctrine may be a defense if the Department of Social and Health Services is asking that a client repay an overpayment. The party must prove each of the following elements: a party's admission, statement or act inconsistent with its later claim; action by another party in reliance on the first party's act, statement or admission; and injury that would result to the relying party from allowing the first party to contradict or repudiate the prior act, statement or admission. In addition, if equitable estoppel is being asserted against the government (such as DSHS), the party must prove: (4) the application of the defense is necessary to prevent a manifest injustice and (5) will not impair the exercise of governmental powers. For further useful information about this defense, visit the Washington LawHelp site by clicking on the following link at http://www.lawhelp.org.

Evidence
An exhibit or testimony submitted during an a administrative hearing to prove a fact or facts. The administrative law judge will consider evidence in the hearing record in order to make findings of fact.

Exclusion of Witnesses
Keeping witnesses out of the hearing room until it is their turn to testify.

Exhibit
A document or other thing presented by a party during an administrative hearing to show or convince the administrative law judge what the facts are.

Ex Parte
Communication between an administrative law judge and a party without the other parties being present. Ex Parte contacts about a case are generally not allowed, except for answering questions about hearing procedures.

Click here for the specific rule on ex parte communications in the Administrative Procedure Act.

Back to top -- F -- Fair Hearing
The term used for an administrative hearing involving a client of the Department of Social and Health Services.

Fair Hearings Coordinator
An employee of the Department of Social and Health Services who represents the Department in fair hearings ( administrative hearings ).

Fax, filing by
See Filing.

Filing
Delivering papers to the court or to the Office of Administrative Hearings. The general rules for filing, including filing by fax, are in the Model Rules of Procedure at WAC 10-08-110 .

Final Order
An order that is the final DSHS decision in the case. A final order is issued by either an ALJ or a DSHS review judge, depending on the type of case. A final order may be reconsidered upon written request and may be appealed to Superior Court (called judicial review) upon written request. DSHS may not request judicial review. 

-- G -- 

-- H -- Hearing Record
See Administrative Record . 

-- I --

Initial Order
A hearing decision made by an administrative law judge that may be reviewed by a higher administrative authority, such as the Employment Security Department's Commissioner's Review Office or the Department of Social and Health Services' Board of Appeals. 

-- J -- Judicial Notice
A determination by an administrative law judge that a fact is true even if the parties have not presented evidence about it. Usually this occurs when the fact is common knowledge and undisputed. See also Official Notice .

Jurisdiction
The authority of the administrative law judge to hear and decide a case. The authority of the administrative law judge is limited by statutes and regulations. Those statutes might give a deadline of when an appeal must be filed or what types of actions by an agency create a right to an administrative hearing . Therefore, if a party does not meet the requirements of a statute the administrative law judge might dismiss the case based on not having jurisdiction. 

-- K -- 

-- L -- Lay Advocate
A representative who is not an attorney. Some lay advocates, such as certain paralegals, have training and experience in representing parties in administrative hearings .

Leading Question
A question that suggests what the answer should be. Example: "Isn't it true that they always arrive at work at 8:00 a.m.?" Usually the administrative law judge will not allow a party to ask leading questions during the direct testimony of a witness, unless the question is only for background, such as "Are you the social worker assigned to the Appellant's case?" 

-- M -- Mediation
A process by which parties to a dispute attempt to reach an agreement with the help of a mediator.

Model Rules of Procedure for Administrative Hearings
General regulations governing administrative hearings , although each agency may also have more specific regulations.

Click here to access the Model Rules of Procedure online .

Modification
A change.

Moot
No longer requiring a decision. For example, if a party would no longer be affected by the decision in a case, the case might become moot.

Motion
A request made to the administrative law judge , either in writing or orally, often at the time of a prehearing conference or hearing. 

-- N -- Notary Public
A person who authenticates a signature by determining that the person signing is truly the person of that name. Most banks have a notary public who can notarize documents. The document must be signed in the presence of the notary public. 

-- O -- Office of Support Enforcement
Former name for Division of Child Support .

Official Notice
A determination by an administrative law judge that a fact is true even if the parties have not presented evidence about it. For the law regarding official notice, see RCW 34.05.452(5) .

OSE
See Office of Support Enforcement .

OSPI
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

-- P -- Party
One of the participants in a hearing. The parties to the hearing are listed in the caption . The parties are often given special names in administrative hearings, depending on their roles. These names might be claimant , petitioner , appellant , or respondent , depending on the type of hearing. An administrative agency might also be considered to be one of the parties to an administrative hearing . In hearings involving child support, the parties are usually designated as the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent. Perjury
The crime of telling a lie under oath.

Petition
A formal request. An example is a petition for review (appeal).

Petitioner
One of the parties to a case. The petitioner is called this because he or she is petitioning or asking for something. The other party might be called the respondent , or might be an administrative agency.

Pleading
A legal document in which a party sets forth a claim, response, or request. Examples are notices of action by administrative agencies, complaints , and requests for hearings.

Prehearing Conference
(1) A conference between the administrative law judge and the parties , usually by telephone, in which procedural issues are discussed. These may include the date and time of the hearing, deadlines for exchanging evidence , as well as clarification about what the hearing issues will be. All or part of a prehearing conference with the administrative law judge will usually be tape recorded for the hearing record.

(2) A second type of "prehearing conference" is a conference between the parties, such as the representative of the Department of Social and Health Services and an appellant. In this prehearing conference they will clarify to each other their positions, their evidence, and negotiate to see if all or some of the issues can be resolved before the hearing. This conference is "off the record", and the administrative law judge will not hear evidence about these negotiations.

Presiding Officer
The person who conducts a hearing. In some types of hearings, the administrative law judge is also called the presiding officer.

Prima Facie
Latin for "at first sight" or "on its face." A party has a prima facie case or defense if the party has enough evidence to win if the other party does not present evidence to contradict it.

Pro Bono
For free. A pro bono attorney is an attorney who provides services at no charge to the client.

Pro Se
Acting without the aid of an attorney; representing yourself. 

-- Q -- 

-- R -- RCW
See Revised Code of Washington.

Rebuttal
Response to evidence presented by the other party .

Reconsideration
A request that an administrative law judge review and change his or her final order in a case. This is usually done if the requesting party believes that the ALJ overlooked a fact or law, and therefore made a mistake that the ALJ can and should fix. Reconsideration can also be requested from a final order issued by a DSHS review judge.

Click here for the provision in the Administrative Procedure Act about filing a request for reconsideration .

Record of the Proceedings
See Administrative Record .

Representative
A person, such as an attorney, who represents one of the parties to a hearing.

Respondent
One of the parties to a case. The respondent is called this because he or she is responding to (answering) an action started by another party, who might be called the appellant , the petitioner , or might be an administrative agency.

Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
The statutes of the state of Washington enacted by the Washington legislature. In contrast, the Washington Administrative Code contains regulations adopted by various Washington agencies.

Click here to access the RCW online . 

-- S -- Service
Delivering documents to the other party (or, in the case of a subpoena , to a witness). There are different requirements in the law about how documents must be served, depending on what type of hearing is involved, and what type of documents are served. Types of service including personal service (such as having the document hand delivered by a sheriff), certified mail return receipt, or sending by mail.

Standing
The right to be a party to a hearing or to assert a claim. An administrative law judge might dismiss a claim based on a person having no standing if the person would not be affected by the outcome. An example is if person A files a claim asserting that person B is entitled to some benefit, the judge might find that person A has no standing.

Statute
Law. In Washington, the statutes are found in the Revised Code of Washington. The federal statutes are in the U.S. Code .

Click here for some links to doing legal research on the World Wide Web .

Stay
Stop an order or action from taking immediate effect.

Stipulation
An agreement between all parties to a hearing. For example, the parties might stipulate to some or all of the facts, and therefore will not have to present evidence about those facts. Parties might discuss prior to the hearing if they agree to any stipulations. Stipulations will either be made in writing before the hearing, or may be stated on the record by the parties after the hearing starts.

Subpoena
An order requiring a witness to appear at a particular time and place to testify and/or produce documents. The party who requests that a witness be subpoenaed is responsible for making sure that the witness is properly served and for paying the witness fee.

Click here for the rules in the Administrative Procedure Act about subpoenas for administrative hearings.

Subpoena Duces Tecum
A form of subpoena requiring a person to provide the documents either before or at the hearing.

Summary Judgment
A decision by the administrative law judge without a hearing. A party might move for summary judgment if the party believes that the party must win as a matter of law based on written evidence and/or admissions that were made by the other party. The other party may respond with argument and evidence showing there are material issues of fact that can be decided only after a full hearing. 

-- T -- Testimony
A statement of fact made by a party or witness during an administrative hearing under oath. See also direct testimony .

Transcript
A document, generally prepared by a court reporter, that sets forth what was said at a hearing. The court reporter will not prepare a transcript unless requested by a party or the administrative law judge . 

-- U -- 

-- V -- Vacate
Make void or undo. To vacate an order of dismissal means to undo the order, so that the hearing or appeal is reinstated.

Venue
The place where the hearing takes place, usually based on where the parties live or where the event occurred. 

-- W -- WAC
See Washington Administrative Code .

Waive
Voluntarily give up, such as give up a right. Sometimes an administrative law judge will ask a party : "Do you waive your right to representation?" This means "Do you give up your right to have someone else represent you in this hearing?"

Washington Administrative Code (WAC)
Regulations (rules) adopted by various Washington agencies. In contrast, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) contains statutes enacted by the Washington Legislature.

Click here to access the WAC online . 

-- X -- 

-- Y -- 

-- Z --

Law.com Dictionary  + Nolo's Law Dictionary  + Duhaime's Law Dictionary  + Findlaw Dictionary  + A Guide to Terms Used in Washington Courts  + Northwest Justice Project



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