Listening to conversations or observing conduct which is meant to be private, typically by using devices that amplify sound or light, such as stethoscopes or binoculars. The term comes from the common law offense of listening to private conversations by crouching under the windows or eaves of a house. Nowadays, eavesdropping includes using electronic equipment to intercept telephone or other wire communications, or radio equipment to intercept broadcast communications. Generally, the term "eavesdropping" is used when the activity is not legally authorized by a search warrant or court order; and the term "surveillance" is used when the activity is permitted by law. Compare electronic surveillance.
A highly advanced form of eavesdropping. Electronic surveillance employs sophisticated electronic equipment to intercept private conversations or observe conduct that is meant to be private. It includes the use of radio equipment to intercept broadcast communications, the use of small radio transmitters or "bugs" to listen in on telephone or in-person conversations, the use of lasers to intercept conversations inside a room from the slight vibrations of the window glass, and the use of thermal imaging scopes for observing conduct inside a structure. Many of these sophisticated forms of surveillance require a search warrant because they violate a person's reasonable expectation of privacy. This area of law is in a constant state of flux as courts interpret the use of new technologies.
The component parts of crimes. For example, "Robbery" is defined as:
- the taking and carrying away
- of property of another
- by force or fear
- with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
Each of those four parts is an element that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
The right of the state to take private property for public use and provide fair compensation to the owner.
From the French: "In a group"; generally refers to decision by the full court.
"On the bench" or "as a full bench." Refers to court sessions where the entire membership of a court participates rather than the usual number. U.S. circuit courts of appeals, for example, usually sit in panels of three judges, but all the judges in the court may decide certain matters together. They are then said to be sitting "en banc" (occasionally spelled "in banc").
To sign one's signature on the back of a document to authorize its content or transfer.
To command either to do or not to do a specific act.
(1) Describes civil suits in "equity" rather than in "law." In English legal history, courts of "law" could order only the payment of damages. A separate court of "equity" could order someone to do something or to stop doing something. In American jurisprudence, the federal courts have both legal and equitable power, but the distinction is still important. For example, a trial by jury is normally available in "law" cases but not in "equity" cases. (2) To deal fairly and equally with all concerned. This implies not only a fair or just determination on legal grounds, but also a judgment guided by commonsense notions of fairness and justice.
An act or statement that precludes a person from later making claims to the contrary.
From the Latin: "And others"
Any type of proof that is legally presented at trial through witnesses, records, and/or exhibits.
From the Latin: "From one side only"; judicial proceeding performed for one party only.
To complete all the terms of a contract or will; to sign a document; to kill a person by the authority of the state.
The privilege that allows the president and other high officials of the executive branch to keep certain communications private if disclosing those communications would disrupt the functions or decision making processes of the executive branch. As demonstrated by the Watergate hearings, this privilege does not extend to information germane to a criminal investigation.
A document or material object produced and identified in court for the purpose of introducing it as evidence in a case. Each of these documents or objects is ordinarily given an identifying letter or number in alphabetical or numerical sequence before it is offered as evidence.
Money or property returned to the defendant or the bondsman by the court.
To clear from blame or to relieve of responsibility. Expunge: To strike out or erase.
The formal process of delivering a person apprehended in one state to the authorities of the state in which that person has been accused or convicted of a crime.
See False Imprisonment
False Imprisonment: Intentionally restraining another person without having the legal right to do so. It's not necessary that physical force be used; threats or a show of apparent authority are sufficient. False imprisonment is a misdemeanor and a tort (a civil wrong). If the perpetrator confines the victim for a substantial period of time (or moves him a significant distance) in order to commit a felony, the false imprisonment may become a kidnapping. People who are arrested and get the charges dropped, or are later acquitted, often think that they can sue the arresting officer for false imprisonment (also known as false arrest). These lawsuits rarely succeed: As long as the officer had probable cause to arrest the person, the officer will not be liable for a false arrest, even if it turns out later that the information the officer relied upon was incorrect.
A type of court that hears matters related to dissolution of marriage, legal separation of spouses, nullification of marriage, child custody and support matters, and domestic violence petitions.
Matters related to dissolution of marriage, legal separation of the parties, nullity of marriage, child custody and support matters, and domestic violence petitions.
A serious crime (contrasted with misdemeanors and infractions, less serious crimes), usually punishable by a prison term of more than one year or, in some cases, by death. For example, murder, extortion and kidnapping are felonies; a minor fist fight is usually charged as a misdemeanor, and a speeding ticket is generally an infraction.
A person who acts as a trustee or primarily for another person's benefit. As an adjective rather than a noun, fiduciary means something based on a trust or confidence.
For statistical reporting purposes, the date on which the time standards commence. In criminal cases, it is the date of first appearance; for civil cases, it is the date on which the complaint or first paper was filed with the court.
Amount of money paid to the court to start a civil case. Finding: A determination of fact by a judicial officer or jury.
For statistical reporting purposes, the beginning of a court case by formal receipt by the court of a document alleging the facts and requesting relief.
A sum of money a person must pay as punishment because of an illegal act or omission.
The first hearing before a court having jurisdiction at that stage in a criminal case in which the defendant or his or her attorney appears before a judicial officer.
The loss of money or property resulting from failure to meet a legal obligation.
Intentionally deceiving another person and causing her to suffer a loss. Fraud includes lies and half-truths, such as selling a lemon and claiming "she runs like a dream."
A good reason for not attending a court hearing.
In criminal cases, a group that decides whether there is enough evidence to justify an indictment (formal charges) and a trial. A grand jury indictment is the first step, after arrest, in any formal prosecution of a felony.
A notice warning a defendant that a third party has been instructed to apply the defendant's property or money to a debt owed to the plaintiff.
One who promises to be responsible for the debt or default of another. Guardian Ad Litem: A court-appointed adult who represents a minor
A formal admission to an offense charged in a criminal complaint, information, or indictment.
Found "beyond a reasonable doubt" to have committed a crime.
Latin for "You have the body." A prisoner files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in order to challenge the authority of the prison or jail warden to continue to hold him. If the judge orders a hearing after reading the writ, the prisoner gets to argue that his confinement is illegal. These writs are frequently filed by convicted prisoners who challenge their conviction on the grounds that the trial attorney failed to prepare the defense and was incompetent. Prisoners sentenced to death also file habeas petitions challenging the constitutionality of the state death penalty law. Habeas writs are different from and do not replace appeals, which are arguments for reversal of a conviction based on claims that the judge conducted the trial improperly. Often, convicted prisoners file both.
The name of a document used to bring a person before a court or judge for determination as to whether that person is being unlawfully denied his or her freedom; from the Latin for "You have the body."
A formal court proceeding with all parties in a case present, but without a jury.
Testimony intended to be proof of the truth of a statement, arising not from personal knowledge or experience of the witness but from repetition of what the witness has heard others say; such testimony is generally not admitted into evidence.
A finding at a preliminary examination that sufficient evidence exists on the charges made against the defendant to require a trial in Superior Court.
A cell within a courthouse where prisoners are held in custody before and after their court appearance.
The killing of one human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another (not necessarily a crime; see following). Can be (1) excusable, i.e., resulting from a lawful act when no hurt is intended or from an act of self-defense; (2) felonious, i.e., resulting from any wrongful act without any excuse or justification in law; or (3) justifiable, i.e., resulting from an intentional but lawful act such as the execution of a death sentence by an agent of the law (can also apply to self-defense).
An exception to the general rule that a police officer needs an arrest warrant before he can enter a home to make an arrest. If a felony has just occurred and an officer has chased a suspect to a private house, the officer can forcefully enter the house in order to prevent the suspect from escaping or hiding or destroying evidence.
Against or not authorized by the law. Also called illicit or unlawful./p>
Any exemption from a duty, liability, or service of process.
(1) The process of calling a witness's testimony into question. For example, if the attorney can show that the witness may have fabricated portions of his or her testimony, the witness is said to be "impeached"; (2) the constitutional process whereby the House of Representatives may "impeach" (accuse of misconduct) high officers of the federal government, who are then tried by the Senate.
To seize and hold in the custody of the law; generally used in reference to objects (as automobiles) or animals rather than people.
To put a person in prison or jail or otherwise confine him as punishment for committing a crime.
From the Latin: "In chamber"; a hearing held in judge's chambers or in a court with all spectators excluded.
"In the way of a pauper"; the official waiver of court costs incurred due to the insolvency of a filer.
A case in which a party represents himself or herself without an attorney; same as "in pro per"; from the Latin for "in one's own proper person."
To die without making a will or leaving instructions for disposal of property after death.
Testimony or other evidence that fails to meet state or federal court rules governing the types of evidence that can be presented to a judge or jury. The main reason why evidence is ruled inadmissible is because it falls into a category deemed so unreliable that a court should not consider it as part of a deciding a case --for example, hearsay evidence, or an expert's opinion that is not based on facts generally accepted in the field. Evidence will also be declared inadmissible if it suffers from some other defect--for example, as compared to its value, it will take too long to present or risks enflaming the jury, as might be the case with graphic pictures of a homicide victim. In addition, in criminal cases, evidence that is gathered using illegal methods is commonly ruled inadmissible. Because the rules of evidence are so complicated (and because contesting lawyers waste so much time arguing over them) there is a strong trend towards using mediation or arbitration to resolve civil disputes. In mediation and arbitration, virtually all evidence can be considered. See evidence, admissible evidence.
To confine to a jail.
To hold another or oneself responsible for criminal misconduct.
An obligation to provide compensation for a loss, hurt, or damage.
A formal accusation by a Grand Jury charging a person with a crime.
Revealing one's genitals under circumstances likely to offend others. Exposure is indecent under the law whenever a reasonable person would or should know that his act may be seen by others--for example, in a public place or through an open window--and that it is likely to cause affront or alarm. Indecent exposure is considered a misdemeanor in most states.
Generally, this term defines a person who is poor, needy, and has no one to look to for support.
A written accusation presented by a prosecuting officer charging a person in Superior Court with a crime.
An agreement to do something or to allow something to happen, made with complete knowledge of all relevant facts, such as the risks involved or any available alternatives. For example, a patient may give informed consent to medical treatment only after the healthcare professional has disclosed all possible risks involved in accepting or rejecting the treatment. A healthcare provider or facility may be held responsible for an injury caused by an undisclosed risk. In another context, a person accused of committing a crime cannot give up his constitutional rights--for example, to remain silent or to talk with an attorney--unless and until he has been informed of those rights, usually via the well-known Miranda warnings.
A minor violation of the law that is punishable only by a fine--for example, a traffic or parking ticket. Not all vehicle-related violations are infractions, however--refusing to identify oneself when involved in an accident is a misdemeanor in some states.
A court order prohibiting a person from doing or continuing to do a specific act.
Found to be not guilty of criminal charges; acquitted.
A legal inquiry, before a court of law and other officers legally empowered to hold inquiries, usually to determine the cause and circumstances of a death.
See criminal insanity.
Instructions given by a judge to a jury advising what laws apply to that particular case.
A deliberate act that causes harm to another, for which the victim may sue the wrongdoer for damages. Acts of domestic violence, such as assault and battery, are intentional torts (as well as crimes).
The procedure used when two or more persons claim the same thing from a third party through judicial order or settlement.
A term that describes vigorous questioning, usually by the police of a suspect in custody. Other than providing his name and address, the suspect is not obligated to answer the questions, and the fact that he has remained silent generally cannot be used by the prosecution to help prove that he is guilty of a crime. If the suspect has asked for a lawyer, the police must cease questioning. If they do not, they cannot use the answers against the suspect at trial.
: Written questions sent by one party in a lawsuit to an opposing party as part of pretrial discovery in civil cases. The party receiving the interrogatories is required to answer them in writing under oath.
The matter in dispute between two or more persons.