A petition refers to a legal document that formally requests a court order. At the onset of a lawsuit, complaints and petitions are considered pleadings. Petitions are formal requests seeking a specific court order filed by a person, organization or group to the court. It is filed typically at the start of a lawsuit. In the first stage of a civil lawsuit, a plaintiff files a complaint or a petition with the court specifying what the lawsuit is about.
How a Petition Works
Once a lawsuit is filed, it has to go through several stages before it is resolved. In civil cases, for example, the first stage involves the plaintiff filing a complaint or petition with the court. A petition is a document indicating the legal basis of a lawsuit. Upon filing, the defendant is issued with a copy of the document and consequently issued with a notice to appear in court.
During this stage, the courts gives the plaintiff and the defendant an opportunity to resolve the matter out of court. Some of the platforms this can be done is through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which seeks to find solutions instead of court proceedings. In such situations, the court might also give a summary judgment. If by any chance the case proceeds to trial, the judge will levy a verdict. Either party in the case can choose to appeal the verdict in case they don’t find it satisfactory.
What is the Difference between a Petition and a Complaint?
Many people tend to confuse between a petition and a complaint. Actually, most of us use the two phrases interchangeably. It is important to note that there is a sharp difference between a petition and a complaint. The difference between petition and complaint is that: a petition is a formally written request for judicial action while a complaint is the preliminary charge or accusation made a person against another to the relevant officer (usually a magistrate) or court. With complaints, however, court proceedings cannot be filed until the relevant information has been handed down against the defendant. This is one of the factors that make complaints so different from petitions.
From a grammatical point of view, the difference between petition and complaint is that petition formal written request to an individual or organization and it contains many signatures. A complaint, on the other hand, a problem, grievance, concern or difficulty. It is also the act of complaining. When used as verb, to petition is to make a request.
How to Write a Petition
Discussed below are ways to write a petition.
Research your topic:
This is the first step you need to do. Find out everything you need to know about the topic. For instance, if you want file a petition against smoking in public parks, get all the essential details you need to know. Research on the effects it has on the environment and the people relaxing in the park. By doing so, you put up a strong, convincing case.
Determine the number of signatures you need:
This is a crucial step in filing a petition. Figure out the total number of signatures you will need to file your petition. The number can depend on the type of petition you are filing, the geographical location the topic affects among others. For example, you will more signatures for a petition to impeachment your State Governor than for petition seeking to stop water population in your estate.
Develop a Statement of Purpose:
Indicate the reason you want file the petition. This can have a wide range of reasons. When you want to stop policy brutality in your county, you can list it as a statement of purpose.
Add supporting details:
People need to be convinced to file your petition. Given them reasons they should do so. For example, if you are filing a petition to environment pollution in your local area, list the devastating impacts pollution has had on livelihoods.
Cite your references:
Your petition needs to look legal and authentic. You can achieve this by citing references. This will help strengthen your case.
Create a form for signatures:
This is a very important part of the petition. Create a form where people will put their signatures. You can create a slot for their names and signing area. In some cases, you might need to take their contact information, especially when your petition involves court proceedings.
This is the stage where you go into the field to get signatures. Remember to target those who are directly affected by the petition. For instance, if you are filing for a petition to end child slavery, target parents. They will be more than willing to help you out! Furthermore, target populated areas when looking for signatures. Strategically position yourself outside shopping malls or public schools. After you have completed every required stage, you need to be patient. It can take quite some time to get the results you want.
Free Petition Templates
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Tips to Create a Successful Petition
Start by determining the mission of the petition.
- Set attainable goals.
- Identify the decision maker.
- Draft a compelling petition.
- Spread the word.
- Use relevant platforms to convey your message.