Recent Posts in Legal Terms Category

Divorce - Term of the Day

n. the termination of a marriage by legal action, requiring a petition or complaint for divorce (or dissolution in some states, including California) by one party. Some states still require at least a ...
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First Degree Murder - Term of the Day

n. although it varies from state to state, it is generally a killing which is deliberate and premeditated (planned, after lying in wait, by poison or as part of a scheme), in conjunction with felonies ...
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Second Degree Murder - Term of the Day

n. a non-premeditated killing, resulting from an assault in which death of the victim was a distinct possibility. Second degree murder is different from first degree murder, which is a premeditated, ...
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Satisfaction - Term of the Day

n. examination of a person’s premises (residence, business or vehicle) by law enforcement officers looking for evidence of the commission of a crime, and the taking (seizure and removal) of ...
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Decriminalization - Term of the Day

n. the repeal or amendment of statutes which made certain acts criminal, so that those acts no longer are crimes subject to prosecution. Many states have decriminalized certain sexual practices ...
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Guardian Ad Litem - Term of the Day

n. a person appointed by the court only to take legal action on behalf of a minor or an adult not able to handle his/her own affairs. Duties may include filing a lawsuit for an injured child, ...
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Gag Order - Term of the Day

n. a judge’s order prohibiting the attorneys and the parties to a pending lawsuit or criminal prosecution from talking to the media or the public about the case. The supposed intent is to ...
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Jaywalking - Term of the Day

n. walking across a street outside of marked cross-walks, and not at a corner, and/or against a signal light. If there is vehicle traffic or clear markings of a place to cross, this is a traffic ...
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Larceny - Term of the Day

n. the crime of taking the goods of another person without permission (usually secretly), with the intent of keeping them. It is one form of theft. Some states differentiate between grand larceny and ...
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Magistrate - Term of the Day

n. 1) a generic term for any judge of a court, or anyone officially performing a judge’s functions. 2) in a few states, an officer of the court at the lowest level who hears small claims ...
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Temporary Injunction - Term of the Day

n. a court order prohibiting an action by a party to a lawsuit until there has been a trial or other court action. A temporary injunction differs from a “temporary restraining order” which ...
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Criminal Law - Term of the Day

n. those statutes dealing with crimes against the public and members of the public, with penalties and all the procedures connected with charging, trying, sentencing and imprisoning defendants ...
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Joint Custody - Term of the Day

n. in divorce actions, a decision by the court (often upon agreement of the parents) that the parents will share custody of a child. There are two types of custody, physical and legal. Joint physical ...
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Reasonable Doubt - Term of the Day

n. not being sure of a criminal defendant’s guilt to a moral certainty. Thus, a juror (or judge sitting without a jury) must be convinced of guilt of a crime (or the degree of crime, as murder ...
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Parental Neglect - Term of the Day

n. a crime consisting of acts or omissions of a parent (including a stepparent, adoptive parent or someone who, in practical terms, serves in a parent’s role) which endangers the health and life ...
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White Collar Crime - Term of the Day

n. a generic term for crimes involving commercial fraud, cheating consumers, swindles, insider trading on the stock market, embezzlement and other forms of dishonest business schemes. The term comes ...
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Interrogation - Term of the Day

n. questioning of a suspect or witness by law enforcement authorities. Once a person being questioned is arrested (is a “prime” suspect), he/she is entitled to be informed of his/her legal ...
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False Arrest - Term of the Day

n. physically detaining someone without the legal right to do so. Quite often this involves private security people or other owners or employees of retail establishments who hold someone without ...
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Child Support - Term of the Day

n. court-ordered funds to be paid by one parent to the custodial parent of a minor child after divorce (dissolution) or separation. Usually the dollar amounts are based on the income of both parents, ...
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Character Witness - Term of the Day

n. a person who testifies in a trial on behalf of a person (usually a criminal defendant) as to that person’s good ethical qualities and morality both by the personal knowledge of the witness ...
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Felony - Term of the Day

n. 1) a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison, as distinguished from a misdemeanor which is only punishable by confinement to county or local jail ...
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Misdemeanor - Term of the Day

n. a lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies, which can be punished by a state prison term. They are tried in the ...
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Child Custody - Term of the Day

n. a court’s determination of which parent, relative or other adult should have physical and/or legal control and responsibility for a minor (child) under 18. Child custody can be decided by a ...
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Bench Warrant - Term of the Day

n. a warrant issued by a judge, often to command someone to appear before the judge, with a setting of an amount of bail to be posted. Often a bench warrant is used in lesser matters to encourage the ...
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Abscond - Term of the Day

v. 1) traditionally to leave a jurisdiction (where the court, a process server or law enforcement can find one) to avoid being served with legal papers or being arrested. 2) a surprise leaving with ...
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