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Glossary of Legal Terms
(Starting with "F")

By Henry Dahut,,
Studio City, CA, U.S.A.


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Family and Medical Leave Act

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires large employers to permit employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they become seriously ill, have complications due to pregnancy, become a parent, or need to care for a family member who has a serious health condition.

family home

The home in which the parent with physical custody resides with the children. Family homes are frequently treated differently than other marital property, with the judge allowing the custodial parent to remain in the home until the child reaches his or her majority.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") is the federal law that governs workers' wages, including payment of minimum wage and overtime.

false arrest

The unlawful detaining of someone by law enforcement without legal cause. Legal cause is that determination by law enforcement that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The act of false arrest by law enforcement is rarely the basis of a lawsuit.

false pretenses

A crime of larceny where the perpetrator knowingly makes material untrue statements for the purpose of obtaining money or property fraudulently.

farm lease

A lease for agricultural property.

federal preemption

The doctrine that federal law overrides state law. In family law, federal pre-emption comes into play in cases of military pay, social security benefits, railroad retirement benefits, and other property provided through federal programs, as well as in issues covered by ERISA.

fault divorce

A system under which a spouse must prove that the other spouse was guilty of specific wrongful conduct before a divorce will be granted. Examples of fault include adultery, extreme cruelty, desertion, and incarceration for the commission of a serious crime.


A person who has been convicted of a felony.


A criminal act done with criminal intent such that it amounts to a felony. It has been traditionally understood as an act of malicious intent to harm another.


A crime punishable by a minimum of one year or more in state or federal prison.

felony murder doctrine

The law that any death which occurs during the commission of a dangerous felony is considered per se a murder in the first degree. The prosecutor does not have to prove that the accused intended to kill the person, only that he or she intended to commit the dangerous crime. For example: a perpetrator robs a bank with a toy gun, a felony. The teller has a heart attack in the process, the death. Under these facts the perpetrator could be criminally convicted of murder.

finder of fact

In a criminal or civil trial it is usually the duty of the jury to determine the truth and weight of all facts in controversy. A fact finder is not allowed to determine issues of law. This is reserved only for the judge.


The determination of a contested factual question by a judge or jury. Fact finders are usually the men and women of a jury.

first degree murder

Commonly considered the killing of a human being with deliberate and premeditated intent. The intent can be proved by showing the killing was planned or was part of a scheme. It can also be the result of a death committed in the commission of a dangerous felony. The specific elements for first degree murder and their variations are established by statute in each state.

forcible entry

The crime of unlawfully taking possession of a house or structure by the use of force or threat of force.

forensic expert

An expert whose testimony is scientific in nature and who testifies on behalf of either the prosecutor or the defense. The goal of the expert is to assist the fact finder in understanding scientific information. Forensic medicine is a very lucrative business.


Legal action a creditor takes to force the sale of real property so the debt can be repaid from sales proceeds.


Loss of the tenant's continued rights under a lease.


The making of false documents by alteration or by a false signature.


The act of sexual intercourse between a man and woman.


The act of obtaining money or property by deceit, tricks or dishonest acts. Most acts of fraud are felonies. Criminal fraud is commonly perpetrated against the aged and infirm.

fresh pursuit

The present and immediate pursuit by law enforcement of a fleeing suspect.

fruit of the poisonous tree

Evidence which is discovered through illegal search or seizure must be excluded, based on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.


Usually refers to a person already convicted of a crime who has escaped from the police or governmental custody. Under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution a governor must return a fugitive to the state where the crime was originally committed.

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