Divorce – Term of the Day

September 3rd, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Divorce

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 minimal showing of fault, but no-fault divorce is now the rule in which “incompatibility” is sufficient to grant a divorce. The substantive issues in divorces are division of property, child custody and support, alimony (spousal support), child visitation and attorney’s fees. Only state courts have jurisdiction over divorces, so the petitioning or complaining party can only file in the state in which he/she is and has been a resident for a period of time (as little as six weeks in Nevada). In most states the period from original filing for divorce, serving the petition on the other party and final judgment (or decree) takes several months to allow for a chance to reconcile.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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First Degree Murder – Term of the Day

August 31st, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

First Degree Murder

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 such as rape, burglary, arson, or involving multiple deaths, the killing of certain types of people (such as a child, a police officer, a prison guard, a fellow prisoner), or certain weapons, particularly a gun. The specific criteria for first degree murder, are established by statute in each state and by the U.S. Code in federal prosecutions. It is distinguished from second degree murder in which premeditation is usually absent, and from manslaughter, which lacks premeditation and suggests that at most there was intent to harm rather than to kill.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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Second Degree Murder – Term of the Day

August 30th, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Second Degree Murder

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, intentional killing or results from a vicious crime such as arson, rape or armed robbery. Exact distinctions on degree vary by state.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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Satisfaction – Term of the Day

August 29th, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Satisfaction

n. receiving payment or performance of what is due.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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Search and Seizure – Term of the Day

August 28th, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Search and Seizure

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 articles of evidence (such as controlled narcotics, a pistol, counterfeit bills, a blood-soaked blanket). The basic question is whether the search and seizure were “unreasonable” under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution (applied to the states under the 14th Amendment), which provides: “The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” Thus, searches and seizures must be under the authority of a search warrant or when the officer has solid facts that give him/her “probable cause” to believe there was evidence of a specific crime on the premises but no time to get a warrant. Evidence obtained in violation of the Constitution is not admissible in court, nor is evidence traced through such illegal evidence.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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Decriminalization – Term of the Day

August 27th, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Decriminalization

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 between consenting adults, “loitering” (hanging out without any criminal activity), or outmoded racist laws against miscegenation (marriage or cohabitation between people of different races). Currently, there is a considerable movement toward decriminalization of the use of some narcotics (particularly marijuana) by adults, on various grounds, including individual rights and contention that decriminalization would take the profit out of the drug trade by making drugs available through clinics and other legal sources.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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Guardian Ad Litem – Term of the Day

August 24th, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Guardian Ad Litem

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, defending a lawsuit or filing a claim against an estate. Usually a parent will file a petition to be appointed the guardian ad litem of a child hurt in an accident at the same time the lawsuit is filed.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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Gag Order – Term of the Day

August 23rd, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Gag Order

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 prevent prejudice due to pre-trial publicity which would influence potential jurors. A gag order has the secondary purpose of preventing the lawyers from trying the case in the press and on television, and thus creating a public mood (which could get ugly) in favor of one party or the other. Based on the “freedom of the press” provision of the First Amendment, the court cannot constitutionally restrict the media from printing or broadcasting information about the case, so the only way is to put a gag on the participants under the court’s control. In Canada, however, the media can be restricted, as in a famous case in which American newspapers were smuggled across the border to report on a particularly lurid sex-murder case in which a second accused person was yet to be tried. A gag order can also be made by an executive agency such as when President George Bush issued a gag order which forbade federally funded health clinics from giving out information about abortions, a gag order which President Bill Clinton rescinded on his first day in office, January 22, 1993.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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Jaywalking – Term of the Day

August 22nd, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Jaywalking

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 misdemeanor subject to fine, and may be (but not conclusively) contributory negligence in the event of injury to the jaywalker by a vehicle.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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Larceny – Term of the Day

August 21st, 2012 | Posted in Legal Terms

Larceny

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 petty larceny based on the value of the stolen goods. Grand larceny is a felony with a state prison sentence as a punishment and petty larceny is usually limited to county jail time.

Definition courtesy of Law.com.

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