*Italicized words within a definition are further defined elsewhere on this page.
Arrest Warrant “A warrant, issued only on probable cause, directing a law enforcement officer to arrest and bring a person to court.
BAC Blood Alcohol Content This information is obtained by a blood or breath test.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt The standard in a criminal case that must be met by the prosecution in order to convict the defendant. It means the evidence is fully satisfied, all the facts are proven, and guilt is established to a moral certainty.
Burden of Proof A partys duty to prove a disputed assertion or charge. It includes the burden of persuasion and the burden of production. The one who has this burden stands to lose if his evidence (burden of production) fails to convince the jury during a jury trial or a judge during a non-jury trial (burden of persuasion).
Clear and Convincing Evidence Evidence indicating that the thing to be proved is highly probable or reasonably certain. This is a greater burden than preponderance of the evidence, the standard applied in most civil trials, but less than evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the norm for criminal trials.
DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) – The offense of operating a motor vehicle in a physically or mentally impaired condition. Michigan uses the terms OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) or OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired) instead.
Due Process – The constitutional provision that prohibits the government from unfairly or arbitrarily depriving a person of life, liberty, or property.
Durable Power of Attorney – A power of attorney that remains in effect during the grantor’s (the person who grants the power) incompetency.
Earning Capacity A persons ability or power to earn money, given the persons talent, skills, training, and experience.
Estate Planning – The preparation for the distribution and management of a person’s estate at death through the use of wills, trusts, insurance policies, and other arrangements, especially to reduce estate-tax liability.
Expert Testimony Evidence about a scientific, technical, professional, or other specialized issue given by a person qualified to testify because of familiarity with the subject of special training in the field.
Evidence Something (including testimony, documents, and tangible objects) that tends to prove or disprove the existence of an alleged fact.
Felony – A serious crime, usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death.
Forfeiture – The court orders the vehicle sold. Monies from the sale will be distributed according to the priorities defined by statute, first to pay secured interests and then to others.
Guardianship/Conservatorship– A relationship where a guardian is appointed who has the legal authority and duty to care for another’s person or property due to the other’s infancy, incapacity, disability, etc. A guardian may be appointed for all purposes or for specific purposes.
Gross Negligence A conscious, voluntary act or omission in reckless disregard of a legal duty and the consequences to another party.
Heirs – Loosely, a person who inherits real or personal property, whether by will or by intestate succession (without a will).
Immobilization – Immobilization of the offending vehicle is court-ordered for repeat offenders. Drivers must have immobilization devices installed at their expense and show proof of installation to the court. Technologies include: ignition interlock, steering column club, wheel boot, or driver tether. Immobilization is ordered if offender owns, co-owns, leases, or co-leases the vehicle.
Implied Consent Law – Under the Implied Consent Law, when you obtain your driver’s license, you give permission to the State to test the alcohol content of your blood in the event you are arrested for drunk driving. This is the test you are given at the police station, not at the PBT at the scene.
Interlock Device– This device prevents the vehicle from being started until the person passes a breath test. If the driver has any measurable bodily alcohol content, the car will not start. Random tests are required while operating the vehicle. These devices are mandatory for repeat offenders who are granted restricted licenses after serving a period of revocation. Ignition interlocks are installed at the offender’s expense.
Lesser Included Offense – A crime that is composed of some, but not all, of the elements of a more serious crime and that is necessarily committed in carrying out the more serious crime.
Liability The quality or state of being legally obligated or accountable; legal responsibility to another or to society, enforceable by civil remedy or criminal punishment.
Living Will – An instrument, signed with the formalities statutorily required for a will, by which a person directs that his or her life not be artificially prolonged by extraordinary measures when there is no reasonable expectation of recovery from extreme physical or mental disability.
Mens Rea Latin for guilty mind, it is the state of mind that the prosecution must prove that a defendant had when committing a crime in order to secure a conviction, i.e. criminal intent.
Misdemeanor A crime that is less serious than a felony and is usually punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or confinement (usually for a brief term) in a place other than prison (such as a county jail).
Negligence The failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation; any conduct that falls below the legal standard established to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm.
Pain and Suffering Physical discomfort or emotional distress compensable as an element of damages.
Petitioner – A party who presents a petition to a court or other official body, such as when seeking relief on an appeal. For example: If your license is revoked and you are petitioning to have your driving privileges restored by the DLAD, you are the petitioner.
Plain View Doctrine The rule permitting a police officers warrantless seizure and use as evidence of an item seen in plain view from a lawful position or during a legal search when the officer has probable cause to believe that the item is evidence of a crime.
Plate Confiscation – At time of arrest for a multiple offender, officers confiscate the vehicles metal plate regardless of ownership, destroy the plate, and replace it with a paper plate that expires when the case is finally decided.
Power of Attorney– An instrument granting someone authority to act as agent or attorney-in-fact for the grantor (the person who grants the power).
Probable Cause A reasonable ground to suspect that a person has committing a crime or that a place contains specific items connected with a crime. More than a bare suspicion but less than evidence that would justify a conviction must be shown before an arrest warrant or search warrant may be issued.
Probate – The judicial procedure by which a testamentary document is established to be a valid will; the proving of a will to the satisfaction of the court.
Proximate Cause A cause that directly produces an event and without which the event would not have occurred.
Reasonable Person or Reasonably Prudent Person A hypothetical person used as a legal standard to determine whether a person acted with negligence. The reasonable person acts sensibly, does things without serious delay, and takes proper but not excessive precautions.
Reasonable Suspicion A particularized and objective basis, supported by specific facts for suspecting a person of criminal activity.
Registration Denial– Offenders cannot register a vehicle in which they hold an ownership interest until they are relicensed. This applies only to repeat offenders with three or more alcohol convictions or four or more driving while suspended violations.
Restrictions/Restricted License– This means limited driving privileges such as driving to and from work.
Revocation – This means the permanent loss of the driver license and privilege to operate a motor vehicle. After the minimum period of revocation, (one year or five years) drivers may re-apply for a license and try to prove they will be safe drivers in the future. The agency may deny the license or grant a restricted license.
Search and Seizure – The body of law that covers the issues of examining a persons property with the intention of finding evidence not in plain view (search) and taking possession of that property against the will of its owner or possessor (seizure).
Search Warrant A judges written order authorizing a law-enforcement officer to conduct a search of a specific place and to seize evidence.
Standard of Care – In the law of negligence, the degree of prudence that a reasonable person should exercise.
Suspension/Suspend – This means the temporary loss of a driver license for an established period of time. Upon expiration of the suspension period and payment of a $125 reinstatement fee, the license will be returned.
Third Party One who is not a party to a lawsuit, agreement, or other transaction but who is somehow involved in the transaction; someone other than the principal parties.
Trusts– The right to the beneficial enjoyment of property to which another person holds the legal title; the property interest held by one person (the trustee) at the request of another person (the settlor) for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). There are many different types of trusts.
Will – A document by which a person directs his or her estate to be distributed upon death.