Duhaime's Law Dictionary

A
Legal definitions for terms and concepts beginning with A

Ab Absurdo
Latin: an evidentiary suggestion or statutory interpretation that is, or leads to, an absurdity.
Abandon
A giving up, a total desertion, an absolute relinquishment.
Abandonment
The leaving behind of property; an indifference as to the fate of a chattel.
Abate
To put an end to, to nullify or to become void.
Abatement
A reduction in some amount that is owed, usually granted by the person to whom the debt is owed. In the law of torts, the summary removal of a nuisance.
Abbacinare
A barbaric form of corporal punishment meted out in the middle ages where persons would be permanently blinded by the pressing of hot irons to the open eyes.
ABC Rule
An equitable exception to the general rule that attorney fees are not awarded, and which allows an award of attorney fees as consequential damages.
Abduction
To take someone away from a place without that person's consent, or by fraud.
Aberemurder
A spontaneous and gratuitous murder.
Aberratio Ictus
Latin: the accidental harm to a person; e.g. perpetrator aims at X but by chance or lack of skill hits Y.
Abet
Encouraging or inciting another to do a certain thing, such as a crime.
Ab Initio
Latin: from the start; from the beginning.
Abode
A place or places with which a person has established significant contacts through continuous or extended habitation.
Aboriginal
Pertaining to things or land or person or members of a race, which are indigenous to, or first occupied a specified territory.
Aboriginal Fishing Rights
(Canada) The right of Aboriginals to fish for food, to exchange fish for money or other goods, and to fish commercially.
Aboriginal Title
Indians' exclusive right to use and occupy lands they have inhabited from time immemorial, but that have subsequently become discovered by European settlers.
Abortion
The expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it is viable.
Absolute
Final, perfected, complete and unconditional.
Absolute Discharge
A sentence of a person guilty of a crime in which the accused is deemed to have not been convicted. In bankruptcy law, to be fully absolved of former debts and the status of bankrupt.
Absolute Immunity
Shields public officials from being sued for official acts without regard to motive.
Absolute Liability
Offences in which it is not open to a person to avoid liability on the ground that she or he acted under a reasonable mistake of fact which, if the facts had been as the accused believed them to be, would have made his act innocent.
Absolute Nuisance
Intentional conduct or an abnormally dangerous condition that cannot be maintained without injury to property, no matter what precautions are taken.
Absolute Priority Rule
The highest rank amongst creditors; he who gets paid in full before any other creditor.
Absolute Privilege
An absolute defence to an otherwise defamatory statement because of the venue or context in which the statement was made.
Abstract Instruction
An instruction given to a jury which though correct in law, is irrelevant.
Abstract of Title
A statement of the conveyances and charges appearing of record and affecting the title to real property.
Abuse
Physical or nonphysical misuse or maltreatment or use or treatment so as to injure, hurt, or damage.
Abuse of Discretion
A decision of a judicial body based on an erroneous finding of fact or conclusion of law, or an improper application of law to fact.
Abuse of Dominant Position
Intentional anti-competitive acts by persons substantially in control of a market, that has had, is having, or is likely to have the effect of preventing or lessening competition.
Abuse of Process
The use of legal process in an improper or unauthorized manner.
Academic Freedom
The right, without outside interference or censorship, of freedom of teaching, discussions, research, the expression of academic opinion, and to participate in professional or representative academic bodies.
Accardi Doctrine
An agency must abide by its own regulations.
Acceleration Clause
A clause in a contract that states that if a payment is missed, or some other default occurs (such as the debtor becoming insolvent), then the contract is fully due immediately.
Acceptance
The final and unequivocal expression of assent to another's offer to contract.
Access
A non-custodian parent's bundle of rights or times and days during which he/she has exclusive time with the child of the separated parents.
Accessory
Persons who aid or abet the principal offender in the commission of the offence, before or after.
Accident
An unlooked for mishap or occurrence.
Accomplice
Person(s) that aids, abets, advises, or encourages the commission of the crime.
Accord and Satisfaction
The act of one party, having complied with its contractual obligation, accepting some type of compensation from the other party (usually money and of a lesser value) in lieu of enforcing the contract and holding the other party to their original obligation.
Accounting
A detailed statement of the debits and credits between parties arising out of a contract or a fiduciary relation.
Accounts
The written, detailed or summary, record of a person's management or administration of an estate or of a particular matter.
Accretion
The addition to land by the action of water.
Accusare Nemo Se Debet Nisi Coram Deo
Latin: no man is obliged to accusehimself except before God.
Accusation
The formal criminal charge against a person which specifies the essential ingredients in regards to the alleged offence such as time and place and the relevant reference to the criminal law allegedly breached.
Accused
A person to whom a formal information containing an allegation of a criminal offence has been delivered, or a person arrested for a criminal offence.
Acquiescence
Action or inaction which binds a person legally even though it was not intended as such.
Acquittal
A decision by a judge that a person accused of a crime is not guilty.
Act
A bill which has passed through the various legislative steps required for it and which has become law.
Acta Exteriora Indicant Interiora Secreta
Latin: The outward acts show the secret intentions.
Action
A formal demand to a court of law and of justice to resolve a dispute.
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