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Your Quick Guide to Legal Lingo and Phrases

Updated: May 15

Spanish speaking court
a lawyer

Following requests from our students who work in law, we're putting together a helpful list that covers everything from basic legal terms to everyday phrases. We hope you find it useful.

Basic Legal Vocabulary

  • Abogado/a (Lawyer) - The general term for a legal professional.

  • Juez/a (Judge) - The person who presides over the court.

  • Fiscal (Prosecutor) - A lawyer who represents the state or the people in a criminal trial.

  • Defensor/a (Defender) - A lawyer who defends the accused in a trial.

  • Testigo (Witness) - A person who gives testimony in court.

  • Demanda (Lawsuit) - A legal action brought by one party against another.

  • Sentencia (Sentence or Judgment) - The final decision of a court.

  • Contrato (Contract) - A legally binding agreement between parties.

  • Delito (Crime) - An act punishable by law, typically a serious one.

  • Fallo (Verdict) - The decision made by a jury or judge.

Useful Expressions in Legal Settings

  • "Según la ley" - According to the law.

  • "De acuerdo con el artículo..." - In accordance with article...

  • "Presentar una demanda contra" - To file a lawsuit against.

  • "Estar en juicio" - To be on trial.

  • "Dictar sentencia" - To pass judgment.

  • "Cumplir una condena" - To serve a sentence.

  • "Declararse culpable/no culpable" - To plead guilty/not guilty.

  • "Evidencia/Prueba" - Evidence.

  • "Testimonio bajo juramento" - Testimony under oath.

  • "Violación de contrato" - Breach of contract.

Phrases for Client Interaction

  • "¿Cómo puedo ayudarle?" - How can I assist you?

  • "Necesitamos revisar los documentos relevantes." - We need to review the relevant documents.

  • "Es importante actuar de acuerdo con la ley." - It’s important to act according to the law.

  • "Vamos a preparar su defensa." - We’re going to prepare your defense.

  • "Este es el procedimiento habitual en estos casos." - This is the standard procedure in such cases.

Advanced Legal Terms

  • "Jurisprudencia" (Jurisprudence) - The theory or philosophy of law.

  • "Inculpado" (Accused) - The person charged with a crime.

  • "Recurso de apelación" (Appeal) - A request to a higher court for the review of a lower court's decision.

  • "Derecho consuetudinario" (Common law) - Law derived from custom and judicial precedent rather than statutes.

  • "Fianza" (Bail) - Security given for the release of a criminal defendant or witness from legal custody.


Mastering these terms and expressions can greatly enhance a legal professional's ability to work within Spanish-speaking environments and contexts. It's also beneficial to immerse oneself in the language through legal texts, cases, and documents in Spanish. Engaging with Spanish-speaking colleagues and participating in legal proceedings in Spanish can provide practical experience and deepen understanding of legal Spanish.

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