A crime which
is punishable by the death penalty. This type of crime is
referred to as a "capital" offense. The type of death sentence
varies from state to state. Many states use lethal injection.
The types of crimes punishable by death vary from state to
state. In many states murder one is found where the killing
was premeditated or where the murder occurred with special
circumstances such as with an automatic gun, when the victim
is an officer or state official, or in the case of treason.
In almost all states, a capital offense results in confinement
A legal order
from a higher court to a lower court agreeing to review the
lower court ruling as to issues of law. Certiorari is most
commonly used by the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court
in the land. The Supreme Court selects only a small number
of certiorari requests because it often results in a change
of law. The Supreme Court makes a legal statement by denying
a writ letting a lower courts decision stand. This is
also known as the doctrine of stare decisis.
is a vital part of the right to a fair trial. In a criminal
jury trial it is the right of either the prosecutor or the
defense lawyer to remove a juror from sitting on the jury.
When this is done for a justified reason such as prejudice,
the basis of the challenge is for cause. If the juror is removed
without cause it is called a peremptory challenge. Typically
each side is given a set number of peremptory challenges.
The objective is to select a jury which is fair to both sides;
or as many jury trials go, unfair to both sides.
The procedure where a person is allowed to convert from one
nonimmigrant status to another.
group of bankruptcy laws that regulate "ordinary" bankruptcy.
group of bankruptcy laws that regulate "wage earner plans."
trials a person who testifies on behalf of the defendant as
to the defendants reputation for honesty and truthfulness
is known as a character witness. This type of evidence is
usually self-serving and results in a string of rebuttal witnesses
showing the defendant has a bad character for truth and honesty.
allegation against the accused establishing that a crime was
committed by the accused. It is usually contained in a written
criminal information or by indictment. The essence of a charge
requires that a factual allegation be clearly alleged and
that the doing of the factual allegation by the accused constituted
and criminal act of excessive buying and selling of shares
of stock by a stockbroker for the purpose of obtaining more
commissions. The act has both civil and criminal consequences.
The rules governing illegal stock churning are governed by
the blue sky laws of the states and by the Securities and
Exchange Commission of the United States government.
in a trial which is not directly proved but which requires
the inference of another fact to prove its existence. For
example, "I did not see the dog eat the bone but I saw
the dog and then the bone was gone." The jury may infer
the dog ate the bone. This is circumstantial evidence. Such
evidence is just as admissible as direct evidence.
formal notice to appear in court.
A person's legal affiliation with a particular country that
generally gives the right to enter that country as well as
has certain obligations to it.
deposit that is limited to securing the landlord against the
cost of cleaning the premises if the tenant fails to leave
the premises in a clean condition when the tenant vacates.
A fee charged
by landlords to clean the premises either when the tenant
takes possession or when the tenant vacates.
and convincing evidence
degree of evidence that proves a fact by the "preponderance
of evidence" required in civil cases and beyond the "reasonable
doubt" needed to convict in a criminal case.
final argument by an attorney after all evidence has been
presented by both sides. Unlike the opening statement, which
is limited to what the attorney intends to prove, closing
argument often includes emotional argument and appeals to
the jury for justice, forgiveness and fairness.
that is pledged to the repayment of a loan. If the loan is
not paid, the debtor must surrender the collateral to the
entity retained by a creditor to collect a debt.
A lease for
property used for a commercial purpose: retail, office, or
judicial decree ordering a term of imprisonment after the
accused has been found guilty of a crime.
type of law dates back to Mother England. It evolved from
the accepted behavior of English society as it related to
their trade, custom and usage. The common law became the basic
law for most states and evolved specific rules called codes.
executive act of reducing a criminal sentence. It is also
known as executive clemency. Commutation often suggests that
the penalty was excessive or there has been substantial rehabilitation.
However, commutation is more often used when there is evidence
that the defendant was not guilty.
means of determining what fault, if any, the complaining party
may have in relationship to the injury that has occurred.
filing of a law suit by the plaintiff against the defendant.
state of mind of a criminal defendant wherein he or she understands
the charges against him or her and can assist in his or her
own defense. A court cannot try someone who is not competent
to stand trial.
document filed by the creditor in court that begins a lawsuit
against the debtor. The complaint contains the creditor's
factual allegations about the loan transaction.
act of being harmed by a felony, then reaching an agreement
with the one causing the harm that the person harmed will
not tell the authorities in exchange for money or other recompense.
It is often equated to accepting a bribe for silence.
weapon which is hidden on one's person and which is not readily
observable by another. Carrying a concealed weapon is a felony
in most states. In most states the only defense is having
a permit to carry a weapon. This is usually given only to
law enforcement employees.
intentional and bad faith failure to provide material information
to someone with the felonious intent to commit a theft on
that person. Examples include failure to disclose that a car
is known to be a lemon or failing to disclose a bankruptcy
in the hope of obtaining credit.
sentences for more than one crime which are to be served at
one time, not consecutively. The defendant gets the benefit
of not doubling up his or her terms as is the case with consecutive
terms. Such a decision by the judge is usually the result
of leniency or of a plea bargain.
voluntary admission of guilt made to law enforcement. It can
be in the form of a written document or verbal confession
captured on tape. A confession must be voluntary and knowing.
It cannot be the product of coercion or threat. The Miranda
warnings are designed to combat the tendency for law enforcement
to extract forced confessions from suspects while in custody.
a defendant admits the allegations in a criminal complaint
but alleges other facts making up an affirmative defense offered
to prove that the criminal allegations do not prove a case.
procurement of money by trick or deceit. This type of crime
is usually perpetrated on the elderly.
court hearing held about a month after the Chapter 13 plan
is filed, at which the bankruptcy judge approves the plan.
act of government taking the property of a suspect by force
of authority without legal process. Most seizure of property
results from acts involving the illegal drug trade.
act has been challenged as unconstitutional.
right of a criminal defendant to confront the witnesses against
him or her. Confrontation includes the right to cross examination,
which is said to be the great steam engine to the truth.
An official of the U.S. Department of State overseas, who
may issue travel documents to someone seeking permission to
come to the U.S. The Consul is charged with the responsibility
of interpreting and enforcing U.S. immigration laws outside
of the U.S. The U.S. Consul also has duties relating to the
protection of its citizens in a foreign country.
conspiracy is the criminal planning and carrying out of illegal
activities by two or more people.
U.S. Constitution was originally adopted in convention on
September 17, 1787. It was thereafter ratified by the states
and amended 27 times. It is the grounding for all decisions
by our courts including the Supreme Court. It is the legal
premise from which individual rights are given the force of
rights reserved by the people from the U.S. Constitution.
These rights are better known as our Bill of Rights or the
first ten amendments. These rights include: writ of habeas
corpus; no bill of attainder; no unreasonable search and seizure;
no double jeopardy; no self-incrimination; right to due process;
and the right to a speedy and public trial.
An act by
the landlord that makes the premises unlivable, permitting
the tenant to vacate the premises and end her lease obligation
to pay rent.
person who buys for personal, family, or household purposes.
document containing information about a debtor, including
who the debtor borrowed money from, the amount of the debt,
whether or not the promised payment was made on time and in
full, and the identity of any creditor requesting information
about the debtor.
guarantee the repayment of someone else's debt. Although the
debtor's obligation is dischargeable in bankruptcy, the cosigner's
obligation is not discharged unless the cosigner declares
reckless or intentional disruption of a judicial proceeding
such that the court concludes the conduct of that person in
court is unlawful. Examples include being disrespectful to
the judge or not following the court's instructions. The court's
power to punish for contempt includes fines and jail.
who agrees to a lease or rental agreement together with one
or more other persons who will also occupy the premises.
agreement between a client and an attorney wherein payment
to the attorney is based upon the monetary recovery by the
client, and not on an hourly rate.
drug which has been declared by federal or state law to be
illegal for sale or use without a medical prescription.
act of finding the defendant guilty of a crime after a trial.
for the body of the accused.
for the substantial fact that a crime has been committed.
total collection of the law. It is also known as a compendium
of all laws, cases and interpretations.
substantiate testimony of another witness or a party in a
separate charging statement in a criminal complaint which
states the factual basis which constitutes the exact crime
for which the accused is charged.
a debtor with advice about preparing a budget and paying debts.
conclusion a creditor makes about a debtor's credit-worthiness,
based primarily on a consumer credit report.
person or company to whom a debt is owed.
violation of a law perpetrated by a person against the interests
of another person. The crime is considered to be a wrong against
the people, not just the individual.
mitigating factor in a crime said to be caused by passion
rather than specific intent. To make this claim the defendant
must prove he or she was provoked into a state of passion
and without time for contemplation or cooling off.
person who has committed and been found guilty of a crime.
attorney that specializes in defending people charged with
presiding judges list of criminal cases to be called
in court for some legal proceeding or purpose. Proceedings
can include arraignments, pretrial hearings, preliminary hearings,
bail settings, motions and sentencing.
procedure by which criminal conduct is investigated, evidence
gathered, arrests made, charges brought, defenses raised,
trials conducted, sentences rendered and punishment carried
direct examination, the other party can cross examine the
same witness. This usually entails questions that can be leading
and unusual punishment
constitutional prohibition against governmental penalties
that shock our morality. They are specifically prohibited
under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However,
no where are they specifically defined.
a defendant has been found guilty of more than one offense,
the judge may sentence him to prison for successive terms
for each crime.