Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'W'

By Brett Snider, Esq. on December 28, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

Lawyers love to use a whole world of weird and wondrously whimsical words to describe certain facets of the law.

And as you might have guessed, a good deal of them may begin with the letter "W." Don't be caught without your wits. Learn more about these five legal terms beginning with "W":

  • Wanton. No, this isn't another way to spell the Asian dumpling. In fact, the word describes very unsavory action or indifference on the part of a person, typically resulting in serious harm or death. Often a person's actions are described as wanton when an attorney wishes to meet the legal standard for recklessness. In a criminal case, a prosecutor might use "wanton" to describe a murder defendant's acts which have a malicious or craven intent.
  • Warranty. Although it seems to mostly come up when consumers return items that break, a warranty is a promise guaranteeing the good condition of a product, real estate, or rented space. While it's nice to have a warranty in writing, some of them are implied by law.
  • Wet Reckless. A "wet reckless" is the colloquial name for a plea bargain available to some minor DUI suspects, typically involving less jail time and a shorter period of probation. In some states, a "wet reckless" is its own separate criminal charge, while in others it is the slang term for a reckless driving plea bargain in a drunken driving case.
  • Work product. When an attorney refers to something as "attorney work product," it refers to an attorney's notes and materials used to prepare for trial. As long as attorney work product contains the opinions, strategies, and general impressions of an attorney, it is typically not available to the other party through discovery.
  • Writ. Derived from Old English meaning "something written," a writ describes a category of legal petitions that originate from English common law. Commonly used writs include a writ of certiorari (a petition asking the Supreme Court to review a case), a writ of habeas corpus (a request for a hearing on the legitimacy of a person's detention or imprisonment), and a writ of mandamus (an order issued by a court to a lower entity [government agency, lower court, etc.] to correct an error).

Do you feel a bit more wizened now? Or perhaps more worldly? For more legal terms you may not know, check out FindLaw's Legal Dictionary for more than 8,000 definitions. And in next week's final installment of Legalese From A to Z, we'll explain five more legal terms you may not know, beginning with the letters "X," "Y," and "Z."

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