Legal Dictionary

A
  • ABANDONMENT -

    The intentional relinquishment or forsaking of all possession or control of any substance. In any prosecution under ECL Article 71, Title 27, it is an 'affirmative defense to an allegation of abandonment that the defendant surrendered possession or control of such substance to another party who knowingly and voluntarily consented to assume such possession or control.

  • ACCESSORY BEFORE THE FACT -

    A person who solicits or knowingly assists another person in the commission of a crime, often the only person not actually present at the time of the criminal act.

  • Autopsy -

    Necropsy. The examination of a dead body by a pathologist for the purpose of finding the cause of death. Also known as a post-mortem examination.

  • Abandon -

    To intentionally give up a right or property without any plan of reclaiming it in the future; to desert a spouse or childNabandonment.

  • Abatable Nuisance -

    A nuisance that can be reduced.

  • Abate -

    To decrease, reduce, or diminish; to end, dismiss, or temporarily suspend a lawsuitNabatementADJabatable.

  • Abduct. -

    (1) To take or carry away a person illegally by force or persuasion(2) To take away or detain unlawfully a female, intending to force her into marriage, concubinage, or prostitution(3) For a woman to entice a husband to abandon his wife for herNabductionSee also kidnap, alienation of affections.

  • Abettor -

    A person who abets or instigates a crime; an abettor shares criminal intent with the person who in fact commits the crimeSee also aid and abet, accessory, accomplice.

B
  • BEST AVAILABLE CONTROL TECHNOLOGY -

    An emission limitation or equipment standard based on the maximum degree of reduction which the Department of Environmental Conservation determines is achievable on a case-by-case basis taking into account energy, economic, environmental and health impacts, and other costs related to the source.

  • Bail -

    Money or other security given temporarily to the court to allow a prisoner to be released before trial and to ensure that he or she will return for trial; if the prisoner does not return for trial, he or she forfeits the bailVTo furnish money or property to get someone released from prison.

  • Bail Bond -

    A contract between a prisoner, the state, and a third party known as a bail bondsman, in which the bail bondsman agrees to furnish bail for the prisoner in return for a fee and takes the risk that the prisoner will not return for trialSee also bond, bondsman.

  • Bailee -

    A person who holds goods or property for someone else for a specific purpose, such as a mechanic keeping a car for repairs.

  • Bank -

    A financial institution that holds money for customers, invests it to earn interest, lends money at interest, issues promissory notes, handles trusts, deals in negotiable securities, and performs other financial services.

  • Bankruptcy -

    A process in which a court declares a person or business insolvent and orders the debtor’s assets to be sold to pay off creditors, at which point the debtor is discharged from any further obligation and may begin anew

C
  • Case -

    (1) A legal action or lawsuit to be decided in a court of law or equity(2) The legal arguments and evidence used by one side of a lawsuit to support its position.

  • Cause Of Action -

    A set of facts that creates a valid legal claim that can be grounds for a lawsuit.

D
  • Damages -

    Money awarded as compensation for injury or loss

  • Death Penalty -

    Capital punishment; punishing someone for a serious crime such as murder by killing him or her.

  • Debenture -

    An unsecured loan instrument issued by a company and backed by a promise to pay or general credit rather than a specific property; an unsecured bond, often issued by a large company with good credit ratings; holders of debentures are creditors of a corporation and if the corporation dissolves, they receive payment before stockholdersSee also indenture

  • Data -

    A fact or facts from which conclusions are drawn; information, collected in order to reach a conclusion.

  • Deceased -

    A person who has died.

E
  • Easement -

    The right of a non-owner to use land. Such a non-owner may be a next-door neighbor, the general public, or the government. An easement would be the right of an owner of property, who has no land on the street, to use another individual's property to reach the street. Easements must be negotiated and voluntarily agreed to by the owners of property.

  • E-Commerce -

    Buying and selling goods and services electronically, particularly over the Internet.

  • Electronic Signature -

    An electronic symbol, sound, or process that can be used by a person to verify that he or she is taking the step of signing a record or document, such as by keying in a personal identification number or clicking a box to accept the terms and conditions of a website; also called a digital signature.

  • Enact -

    To make something happen; to create a law.

  • Estate -

     1. Property in which someone has an interest; a person's right to property, such as real estate. 2. An estate is composed of a person's total possessions, including money, securities, land, etcetera. (The word estate is synonymous with the word property.)

  • Exception -

    The disagreement with a judge's refusal of a request made by one of the attorneys in a case. The request usually takes the form of an objection, and the refusal is stated by the judge in the words objection overruled. The exception is duly recorded and may possibly form the basis for a future appeal from the court's decision in the case.

F
  • Fact -

    Something that is true; a thing that has happened or a situation that exists.

  • Fact Finder -

    The person or group of people whose job is to determine the facts in a case; also called the trier of factSee also jury.

  • False Arrest -

    Unlawfully arresting or detaining someone without legal authority or the detainee’s consent.

  • False Statement -

    A statement made by someone who knows it is false or who makes it recklessly without honestly believing it to be true, intending it to deceive.

  • Family Court -

    A court with jurisdiction over matters related to families and children, including child abuse and neglect, support and custody, paternity, and juvenile delinquency.

  • Felon -

    One who has committed a felony.

  • Felony -

    A serious crime; most felonies are defined by statute, and often include those that are punishable by death or by more than one year of imprisonment

  • Fetus -

    An unborn mammal; an unborn human child after the first eight weeks of gestation

  • Firewall -

    A device or program that limits access to a computer network.

  • Fiscal Year -

    A twelve-month period used by a business as a tax and accounting period; the accounting year.

G
  • Gambling -

    Betting; playing games of chance for money.

  • Gaol -

    An archaic spelling of “jail.”

  • Garnish -

    To seize someone’s money, property, or wages to settle a debt or claim.

  • Garnishment -

    A court order that takes the property or money that a third party owes to a debtor (typically wages owed to the debtor by an employer) and gives it to a plaintiff creditor.

  • Genocide -

    The practice of killing a race or ethnic group; systematic eradication of an ethnic or national group by murder, forced birth control, removal of children from the group, and a general program of persecution.

  • Graft -

    Corrupt practices used by public officials to unlawfully take public money; money obtained by corruption.

H
  • Habeas Corpus -

    (Latin) You have the body; a writ that institutes a court proceeding to determine whether a criminal defendant has been lawfully imprisoned, or to test the constitutionality of a conviction; also used in cases of child custody and deportation.

  • Hack -

    To break into a closed computer network by using software or clever programming and quick fix to a computer programming problem; a modification to a program that allows the user to enter an area of the program or network that was previously closed to the user.

  • Hale -

    To drag forcibly; to summon forcefully into court.

  • Hanging -

    A form of capital punishment in which the convicted person has a rope placed around his or her neck and is then hung until dead.

  • Harass -

    (1) To pressure, intimidate, or attack repeatedly; to annoy; to insult or abuse verbally(2) To bring a criminal prosecution against someone without a reasonable expectation of convictionNharassmentSee also harassment, sexual.

  • Hearing -

    A legal proceeding, usually less formal than a trial, in which the parties to a case are given an opportunity to present evidence and testimony to a judge or other official who determines the facts and makes a decision based on the evidence presented.

  • Heir -

    A person legally entitled to inherit an estate if its owner dies without a will.

  • Holograph -

    A will written by hand by a testator, signed by the testator, and not witnessed; also called a holographic will.

  • Homicide -

    The killing of one human being by another.

  • Honorarium -

    A payment of money or a valuable item rendered to a professional in exchange for a service for which a fee is traditionally or legally not paid; a gift given instead of pay as consideration for services.

I
  • Ibid -

    (Latin) Ibidem

  • Ibidem -

    Latin) In the same place; used to cite a source that has already been cited in full in the preceding footnote

  • Illegal -

    Forbidden by law or not according to law; unlawful

  • Illegitimate -

    (1) Not authorized by law; illegal(2) Born to parents not married to one another at the time of conception

  • Illicit -

    Illegal; against rules or custom

J
  • Jail -

    A building used to confine people held in legal custody either awaiting trial for a criminal offense or serving a prison sentence after conviction; usually used for short-term confinementVTo imprison; to put someone in jailSee also prison, correctional institution.

  • Jeopardy -

    Risk or danger; the danger of being convicted that is a natural accompaniment to being a defendant in a criminal trialSee also double jeopardy

  • Jobber -

    (1) A person who buys and sells stocks or goods; a wholesaler or middleman(2) A person who works casually doing odd jobs for pay

  • Judiciary -

    A collective term for judges; the bench; the judicial branch of the government

  • Jurisprudence -

    (1) The philosophy or science of law(2) The body of law formed by cases and interpretations of them; a system of law.

  • Jurisdiction -

    The power to make judicial decisions; a court’s or judge’s power to investigate the facts of a matter, apply law to them, and declare a judgment(2) The territory in which a particular court can exercise its authority; the system of courts within a particular area

  • Jury -

    A group of people selected and sworn to hear the evidence in a case and decide what the true facts are; usually composed of a cross section of the communitySee also grand jury, hung jury, petit jury

  • Jus In Bello -

    (Latin) Law in war; law governing actions during wartime.

  • Juvenile -

    A child; a person below the age of legal majorityADJChildish or youthful; relating to children or young people

  • Jus Cogens -

    (Latin) Compelling law; a peremptory norm; in international law, a principle that is widely accepted to be true by a large number of states and individuals, such as the belief that genocide and slavery are wrong

K
  • Kangaroo Court -

    A court that is completely biased against one party and therefore disregards that party’s rights and delivers a judgment or verdict that is unfair to him or her; a trial in a kangaroo court is considered a sham without legal authority

  • Keogh Plan -

    A retirement plan for self-employed people with benefits similar to those enjoyed by employees with employersponsored retirement plans

  • Kickback -

    A payment made by a seller to a buyer or agent in order to persuade him or her to enter into the transaction; illegal in most cases.

  • Kyoto Protocol -

    An amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that requires signatory nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to an assigned level.

  • Key Number System -

    A system of organizing published cases by numbering each point of law with a key number, making it easy for legal researchers to locate relevant topics and cases

  • Kidnap -

    To unlawfully and forcibly take and carry away a personNkidnapping.

L
  • Labor -

    (1) Work, especially manual work(2) A collective term for workersVTo work, especially at hard physical jobs

  • Labor Dispute -

    A disagreement between employees and their employer about terms and conditions of employment, including pay, safety, hours, etc

  • Labor Union -

    An organization of workers in a particular field that exists to handle disputes between the workers and their employers, working under the assumption that the workers have more power when they join forces and negotiate as a unit; also called a labor organization

  • Laches -

    An unreasonable delay in asserting or enforcing a claim

  • Laches, Estoppel By -

    A doctrine that prevents a person from suing for some grievance that happened far in the past or otherwise seeking to enforce some right that he or she should have addressed long ago, on the assumption that the party with the claim has been negligent in not bringing it, that the defendant would have a hard time defending against it because it is so old, and that often the defendant has been put at a disadvantage because the would-be plaintiff has delayed so long.

  • Lapse -

    The expiration of a right or privilege due to failure to exercise it or otherwise maintain it; the end of a legacy or right due to the death of the person who held it or to the expiration of a specified period of time; failure of a bequest or testamentary gift; the termination of an insurance policy if the policyholder does not pay the premiumVlapse

  • Larceny -

    Taking the property of another person without the owner’s consent and with the intention of making it the property of someone else

  • Launder -

    To move money through different businesses, accounts, and banks in order to conceal its origins; the federal crime of obscuring the source of money obtained through illegal means such as drug dealing, racketeering, and other crimesNlaundering

  • Layman -

    A person who is not a professional or expert in a particular field, e.g., in legal situations, a nonlawyer

  • Legal Detriment -

    Injury or disadvantage caused to someone who acted in such a way as to change his or her legal position or assume a liability or duty based on a promise that another person made but did not keep.

  • Legalese -

    The formal language used in legal documents; especially refers derogatorily to unnecessarily complex and opaque language that is extremely difficult to understand

  • Lemon Laws -

    Laws passed by many states that provide relief to people who purchase new automobiles that turn out to be defective.

  • Lineage -

    Family descent or ancestry