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Legal explanations - Law terms
Category: Legal
Date & country: 25/02/2010, SG
Words: 2578


Declarant
a person who signs a written statement of facts true to his knowledge. Lying intentionally amounts to offence of making false statements under oath.

Declaration
a signed annoucement made in writing, under oath and under penalty of perjury (used in place of affidavits).

Declaration Of Mailing
an annoucement of properly conducting the mailing business of the court by the person responsible for it. Mails in question are usually legal notifications to concerned parties. This declaration comes under penalty of perjury.

Declaration Of Trust
n. The document that creates trust into assets that are placed and is signed by a trustor. The duties, powers of management and distribution of the profits and principal are stated in the document. The trust is managed by an appointed trustee, who may be the party who created the trust.

Declaratory Judgment
n. A court judgment that doesn't order anything to be done or award damages but determines the parties' rights. Declaratory judgments are allowed to nip controversies in the bud, but border on advisory opinions which are prohibited. For example: An employer may request the court to rule whether a new tax is applicable to the business prior to payin...

Declaratory Relief
n. The judge's ruling that results from the declaratory judgment which is requested in a lawsuit over the parties' contract rights. In theory, early resolution of legal rights will resolve the issues in the same matter.

Decree
n. Synonymous with the term judgment. In some legal areas such as probates of estates, divorce, admiralty law and in court rulings ordering or prohibiting certain acts, the term decrees is more commonly used or preferred. Therefore, judgments may refer to final or interlocutory decrees.

Decriminalization
n. Crimes which are no more subject to prosecution because the statues that made the act criminal were repealed or amended. Certain sexual practices between consenting adults, loitering, or outmoded racist laws against miscegenation have been decriminalized by many states. There is substantial movement towards decriminalizing the use of certain nar...

Dedication
n. The gift of land to an entity or government by a private person under the condition that the land be used for real estate development. Before the development is complete, the public body must accept the dedication. Dedicated streets which were never officially accepted, that do not belong to anyone. Consequently, adjoining property owners can su...

Deduction
n. An amount which is subtracted from total income in order to determine taxable income. The expenditure applies to tax payers and is not equivalent to exemptions such as for marital status, age over 65, disability, or number of dependents which reduce the total amount of owed tax.

Deed
1) n. The document that transfers ownership / title, or transfers and interest in real property to another person. The deed is required to identify the grantor (the person transferring the property) and the grantee (the party receiving the property, describe the property, and be signed by the grantor before a notary public to acknowledge that he/sh...

Deed Of Gift
A legal document that transfers property ownership without the requirement of a purchase price.

Deed Of Trust
n. A legal document that pledges real property in order to secure a loan. This deed is used in place of a mortgage in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The title holder (trustor) deeds the property to a trustee wh...

Defalcation
v. Latin meaning "deduction." Defalcations are funds which are withheld or misappropriated by public officials for another.

Defamation
n. The act of damaging a person's reputation by making untrue statements. The remarks are considered libel if printed or broadcast over the media and slander if made orally. The defamation has to be proven to be made with malicious intent opposed to just fair comment when public figures are involved. Unless there is malice, damages for slanderous r...

Default
1) n. A party's failure to respond to a summons and complaint that was served upon them. This can result in the rights of the defaulting party to be terminated if the legal answer or other response isn't entered in the record. New York has a unique statute where a default can be taken by failure to respond to a summons that was served without compl...

Default Judgment
n. Plaintiff (the suer) has the right to receive a default judgment after requesting a default to be entered into the court record by the clerk because the defendant in a lawsuit failed to respond to a complaint in the predetermined time (typically 20 or 30 days). If the amount due is easily calculated because the complaint was for a specific amoun...

Defeasance
n. In the case of some event occurring, the document that terminates the effect of an existing writing such as a contract, deed, or bond. It is an antiquated word.

Defect
n. An imperfection so great that the item cannot be utilized, such as faulty breaks in a car. Minor defects reduce the value of the item, but do not affect its ability to be utilized. For example: a scratch on the car's bumper.

Defective
adj. Having an imperfection that is so great that it cannot fulfill its function.

Defective Title
n. A faulty description of the property or other imperfection with an apparent title to real property which does not hold up as a legal title.

Defendant
n. 1) During a criminal prosecution, the party charged with a crime, or in a civil lawsuit, the party being sued. Respondent is another term for defendant.

Defense
n. 1) The effort of the defendant's attorney during the trial process designed to defeat the suing party or prosecution in a criminal case. 2) To counter, or defeat the plaintiff's contentions, a response to a complaint.

Defense Attorney
n. 1) During a lawsuit or criminal prosecution, the attorney who represents the defendant. 2) The lawyer chosen by an insurance company to represent defendants who have insurance. 3) Lawyers who typically represent criminal defendants. When damages are involved, they're referred to as "plaintiff's attorneys."

Deficiency Judgment
n. The judgment issued for the amount that is not covered by the value of the security placed for the loan or installment payments. Most states require a judicial foreclosure is filed instead of just foreclosing on real property. Additionally, after foreclosure on the mortgage or deed of trust, some states allow a lawsuit for a deficiency judgment....

Deficit
n. Occurs when there is less income than expenditures, a shortage exists, or less is due. At every government level, unbalanced budgets with a planned year-end deficit are prohibited.

Defraud
v. Utilizing trickery, falsehoods, or deceit in order to attain the objects, rights, or money that belongs to another person or entity.

Degree Of Kinship
n. Each step from a common ancestor that describes the level of relationship between two blood related persons, such as first cousins, one sibling to another, parent to child. The calculation is important in cases where there is no will in order to determine the estate heirs.

Delayed Exchange
n. Pursuant to IRS Code sec. 1031, funds from one property sale are placed in binding trust for up to 180 days while a property seller acquires another property. This exchange puts off capital gain taxes and is sometimes referred to as a "Starker," named after the man who won an IRS lawsuit after using this method.

Delegate
1) v. To give authority to another. 2) n. The person chosen by an organization, interest group or business to attend a conference, convention, or meeting.

Deleterious
adj. Damaging

Deliberate
1) adj. premeditated, done with intention and care. 2) v. When members of a jury, a panel of judges or group such as the legislature considers the facts, the laws, and/or other matters.

Deliberation
n. The act of considering the facts, the laws, and/or other matters, for the purpose of reaching a conclusion.

Delinquent
1) adj. not paid on time, nor in the full amount. 2) n. Term for an underage law violator, or juvenile delinquent.

Deliver
v. To physically hand over money, document, or object to another.

Delivery
n. The act of physically handing over money, document or object to complete a transaction. For example: if payment has been made, the delivery of a deed transfers title, and the delivery of goods makes the sale complete. Unless agreed to by the parties, symbolic or constructive delivery falls short of completion.

Demand
1) v. To claim a requirement or entitlement. For example: to demand performance or payment under a contract. In lawsuits for performance or debt payment, plaintiffs should allege that they made a demand. 2) n. An unqualified request for payment or action. 3) During negotiations to settle a lawsuit, the amount requested by a plaintiff that is usuall...

Demand Note
n. A promissory note that is payable whenever a request to pay it is made. Demand notes differ from notes that have specific due dates, occurrences that prompt their payment, or have installments.

Demise
1) v. Term used to when a real property is leased or transferred for years or life, but not beyond. 2) n. The deed of a real property that only conveys it for years or life. 3) n. death 4). Failure.

Demonstrative Evidence
n. Devices, objects, or pictures that are used in cases to clarify facts for the judge and jury. Demonstrative evidence is not actual evidence, but are aids that are used to illustrate how an accident occurred, methods that were used in committing an alleged crime, medical damages, or actual damages. Evidence such as a bullet-riddled body, opposed ...

Demurrer
n. A complaint's written response that pleads for dismissal claiming that while the alleged facts were correct, they do not constitute a legal basis for a lawsuit. The validity of the demurrer will be determined during a hearing before a judge. While some causes of action will be defeated by a demurrer, others may survive. If a judge determines tha...

Denial
n. Defendant's statement in a lawsuit that a particular allegation is not factual. General denials occur when all allegations are denied. The defendant's statement is limited to admitting, denying, or denying on the basis that they cannot affirm or deny.

Dependent
1) n. Someone who receives support from another and may qualify them to be claimed as an exemption on income taxes. 2) adj. The requirement of an event to occur.

Depletion
n. The occurrence of a natural resource being exhausted. Ironically, tax deductions may apply for companies exploiting the depleting resource because if the resource is completely used up, money can no longer be made from it.

Deponent
n. During a deposition, the person who responds to answers to questions during testimony.

Deportation
n. The act of banishing a foreigner from a country, usually to the country of origin. This may occur because the foreigner has a criminal record, lied on his/her entry documents, is in the country illegally as deemed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, FBI or State Department officials.

Depose
v. 1) Testimony outside the courtroom before a trial at a deposition. 2) To answer questions at a deposition.

Deposition
n. Testimony taken and recorded away from the courtroom before a trial, of a witness under oath before a court reporter. Depositions are part of the trial's investigation, scheduled by an attorney whose client in a lawsuit demands the sworn testimony of the opposing defendant or plaintiff, an event's witness, or an expert that the opposition intend...

Depreciate
v. Accounting practice that reduces the value of an asset on an annual basis under the theory that eventually, the asset will become obsolete or of little value.

Depreciation
n. The loss of value of an asset over time through deterioration despite the fact that the item may retain its value or even increase its value due to inflation. Depreciation can be used by businesses as an income tax reduction that is spread out over the life of the asset or an accelerated rate in the early years of use.

Depreciation Reserve
n. Reserve of funds which is accumulated each year of an asset's life so that the business can replace it when it becomes obsolete and totally depreciated.

Derelict
n. Someone or something which has been abandoned. For example: a ship that was left to drift in the ocean or a homeless person who is ignored by family and society.

Dereliction
n. 1) The act of abandoning possession, such as in "dereliction of duty." 2) The increase of land mass which is due to the tide line lowering.

Derivative Action
n. A corporate shareholder's lawsuit that is filed against the management, directors, and/or other corporate shareholders for a management failure. Due to the directors and management failing to exercise their authority on behalf of the company and its shareholders, the suing shareholder claims to be acting on behalf of the corporation. These suits...

Descent
n. Inheritance rules that were established by law for cases where a will does not exist that names who should receive the possessions of the deceased. State rules vary and are governed by the law of the state where the deceased lived. The estate my all go to a surviving spouse and down the line from a parent to child or to surviving parents, or to ...

Descent And Distribution
n. The law system that settles what heirs will inherit the possessions of a deceased person.

Desert
v. To deliberately discard a person or thin.

Desertion
n. The act of discarding. For instance, leaving one's spouse without intending to return. When the deserter is the family breadwinner, it is expected that they will not return to support the family that he/she left. In an era of no-fault divorce and standardized child support rights, desertion if leally less significant. The deserter's visitation r...

Design Patent
Legal protection afforded a unique artistic design. Design patents do not protection the product's functionality and lasts for fourteen years.

Determinable
adj. Defining something that a particular event can terminate. The term is primarily used to describe a real property interest, such as a fee simple determinable where property id deeded to another.

Deuce
n. Drunk driving conviction. This slang term originated in California where Section 502 of the California Vehicle Code once governed it.

Devise
1) v. Providing real property in a will. This old-fashioned word is distinguished from words that mean providing personal property. 2) n. Gift of real property by will.

Devisee
n. The person who receives real property through a gift in a will. The term covers those receiving any type of gift by a will since the distinction between gifts of real property and personal property is actually blurred.

Devolution
n. 1) Through the automatic operation of law, the transfer of title to real property. 2) n. The transfer from one person or government to another of rights, powers or a public or private office.

Devolve
v. The automatic transfer of property from one party to another through an operation of law that does not require an act by the past or present owner. For example: passing title to the natural heir of a person's upon his/her death. 2) Upon the death of a president, the passing of authority to a vice president. 3) To give a territory the sovereign r...

Dicta
n. Plural form of dictum.

Dictrict Court
A legal jurisdiction's main trial court.

Dictum
n. Latin meaning "remark." Refers to a judge's comment in a ruling or decision which is not required to reach the decision, but may state the judge's interpretation of a related legal principle. The remark does not have the full force of a precedent since it was not part of the legal basis for judgment, but may be cited in legal argument....

Diligence
n. A fair attempt, or reasonable care or attention to a matter which is good enough to avoid a negligence claim. For example: due diligence in a process server's attempt to locate someone.

Diminished Capacity
n. A psychological term that is used in criminal trials to refer to the accused not being insane, but being under emotional distress, physical conditions or factors that affected their ability to fully comprehend the nature of their actions. In an attempt to remove the element of premeditation or criminal intent, it is raised by the defense to obta...

Diminution In Value
n. The decrease in property value due to a breach of contract, or failure to construct something exactly as the contract specifies.

Direct And Proximate Cause
n. The immediate reason why negligence caused damage. It is required that the negligence cause the damages without another party's intervention and cannot be remote in place or time. For example: "Defendant's negligent acts directly and proximately caused plaintiff's injuries."

Direct Evidence
n. Clear, real, or tangible evidence of fat, occurrence, or thing that does not require thinking or consideration in order to prove its existence. This is opposed to circumstantial evidence.

Direct Examination
n. During a trial or deposition, the initial questioning of a witness. This is distinguishable from cross-examination from opposing attorneys and redirect examination when the original attorney questions the witness again.

Directed Verdict
n. A jury's verdict which is directed by a trial judge resulting in delivering a particular verdict because one of the parties failed to present credible testimony on a key element of the defense or claim. While a criminal case judge may direct a verdict of acquittal, the judge cannot direct a verdict of guilty. This cannot occur because it would d...

Director
n. Re-elected at annual shareholder meetings, they are a member of a corporation or association's governing board. Directors are only responsible for the policy making, not the day-to-day operation which officers and other manager handle. In some instances, directors may also be an officer, but the do not need to be a shareholder. A minimum of thre...

Disability
n. 1) When a usual physical or mental functions are prevented from a condition. Typically, this refers to a permanent lack of function, but can be temporary. People with disabilities should be accommodated and encouraged to perform at their maximum potential. Society and the law gives disables the right to participate in governmental and societal a...

Disbar
v. Improper conduct which results in the removal of an attorney from practice which prohibits the attorney from practicing law before the courts in a state or from advising clients for a fee. The State Bar Association or the highest state court typically invokes this penalty. Conduct which would qualify for disbarment include conviction for a felon...

Disbarment
n. The removal of an attorney's license to practice law, often for right. This ultimate discipline only results after investigation and opportunities for the attorney to explain his/her improper conduct. Possibly after rehabilitation and/or cure, an attorney may be reinstated.

Discharge
v. 1) To perform one's duties. 2) To let go from a job. 3) To pay one's obligations or debts. 4) During bankruptcy proceedings, the court order that issues that all debts are forgiven and do not need to be paid.

Discharge In Bankruptcy
n. At the conclusion of the bankruptcy process, the order given by the bankruptcy judge which forgives the remaining debts that cannot be paid. Certain exceptions are not dischargeable, such as debts for fraudulent or illegal actions, alimony and child support and taxes, and remain owed. A bankruptcy discharge is bad news for unsecured creditors.

Dischargeable Debts
"The debts which are erasable by the bankruptcy process. Most debts which are incurred prior to bankruptcy, such as credit card bills, back rent and medical bills qualify for discharge.

Disclaimer
n. 1)The renunciation or denial of someone's property title. 2) Refusing responsibility for a person's claim. For example: an insurance company's denial of coverage under an insurance policy. 3) Statement of non-responsibility such as when dissolving a business or partnership.

Discount
n. Less payment than the full amount due on the price of goods or services or a promissory note. Discounts are by agreement and indicate a situation which the holder of the long-term promissory note or material goods would sell it/them for cash which is less than face value.

Discovery
n. The efforts to obtain information before a trial by a party to a lawsuit and his/her/its attorneys by demands for production of documents, depositions of parties and potential witnesses, written interrogatories, written requests for admissions of fact, examination of the scene, and petitions and motions employed to enforce discovery rights. The ...

Discretion
n. A judge, public official, or private party's power to form a decision within general legal guidelines that is based upon his/her opinion. For example: a) a judge has the discretion regarding the amount of a fine or whether to grant a trial's continuance; b) An estate's trustee or executor may have discretion to divide assets into approximate equ...

Discrimination
n. Irregardless to legal rights or ability, the unequal treatment of persons. State and federal laws forbid discrimination in housing availability, employment, right to promotion, rates of pay, civil rights, educational opportunities, and the use of facilities based upon nationality, creed, race, color, sex, age, or sexual orientation. A variety of...

Disfigure
v. To cause visible scars which affect a person's appearance and change their appearance. Scarring can add considerably to general damages in lawsuits or claims involving injuries caused by negligence or intentional actions.

Dishonor
v. The refusal to pay the amount due on a promissory note or pay a check's face value.

Disinherit
v. Intentionally guaranteeing that a person who normally would inherit upon a party's death does not receive an inheritance. Provisions in a will or a codicil to a will state who is disinherited and is not to receive anything. If a will ignores or does not mention a child, he/she may become a "pretermitted heir" and may still qualify for ...

Disinheritance
n. The act of disinheriting.

Disjunctive Allegations
n. A civil lawsuit's attempt to claim that one thing "or" another occurred, and in criminal charges that one crime "or" another was committed by the accused. These types of complaints are not allowed because the defendant is entitles to know the charges which they must defend themselves against.

Dismiss
v. A judge's ruling that a portion or all of the lawsuit is terminated without allowing additional evidence or testimony. When the judge is convinced that the plaintiff has not and cannot prove his/her/its case, the judgment can be made to dismiss the case. This may occur before, during, or at the end of a trial and can be based on the complaint fa...

Dismissal
n. 1) Voluntarily concluding a lawsuit or criminal prosecution by one of the parties involved. 2) The judge's declaration that a criminal charge or lawsuit is ended. 3) Appeal court's dismissal of an appeal. This lets the lower court's decision stand. 4) The plaintiff's act of settling a case and dismissing a lawsuit. A dismissal with prejudice ind...

Disorderly Conduct
n. 1) Actions which are disturbing to others. 2) A minor criminal offense. For example: public drunkenness, disturbing the peace, loud threats, or loitering.

Disorderly House
n. 1) House of prostitution. 2) Location for illegal gambling.

Disposing Mind And Memory
n. At the time of making a will, the mental ability to generally understand what one possesses and the persons who are the "natural objects of bounty" (wife, and/or children).

Disposition
n. The final determination by a court in a lawsuit or criminal charge.

Dispossess
v. Either legally or by self-help, to eject someone from real property.

Dissent
n. 1) A judge or court of appeals opinion which disagrees with the popular opinion. Dissent may triumph as the law and society progress. Dissenting opinions of Oliver Wendess Holmes, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1902-1932) have been widely quoted and have served to shape the basis for later majority opinions. 2) Declared disagreemen...