This collection of investigation definitions is intended to help private investigators, police officers and everyday citizens understand the meaning of various legal terms used by lawyers, attorneys, government officials, law enforcement departments, and other legal professionals.
Why These Terms are Important
During the course of their work, detectives will have interactions with police officers to discuss information contained in police reports; with attorneys and lawyers to discuss court cases and court records; and experts and specialists about such things as forensics, crime scene investigations and even handwriting analysis.
Having an understanding of the legal terms and the definitions will help private investigators “speak the language” of their craft. The more well-versed you become in the language of law, the more valuable you will become to your clients. Being able to translate legalese will help your clients feel more comfortable with you as a true expert investigator and you’ll be able to help guide them through the complexities of the legal system. It’s not your job to take the place of a qualified attorney, but you should be able to “talk the talk”.
List of Legal Terms and Definitions
Following is a list of some of the more commonly used terms and definitions. Click on a term in the list below to view the definition and recommendations for additional resources related to the term.
- Alimony and Child Support
- Arrests and Arrest Warrants
- Assault and Battery – Crimes of physical violence and injury
- Citizen’s Arrest
- Class Action Lawsuit
- Defendants and Plaintiffs
- False imprisonment
- Judges and Juries
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Legal Guardian
- Misdemeanors and Felonies
- Mug Shots – Photos taken of arrested individuals
- No Contest
- Nolo Contendere – Pleading no contest
- Perjury – Lying in court
- Probable Cause
- Search and Seizure
- Search Warrant – Permission to search a vehicle, house or other property
- Sexual Assault
- Statute of Limitation
- Summons (also known as subpoenas)
- Theft, Larceny and Grand Larceny – Stealing the property of others without consent
- Torts – Business Crimes
- Wire Tapping
Our list of private investigation and legal terms is constantly growing, so please check back often. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, or have a question, please send us an email and we’ll do what we can to help.
- Also, see our list of Acronyms related to the legal field, law enforcement and the investigation industry.