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Glossary of Legal Terms
(Starting with "I")

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


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The INS form issued to arriving non-permanent residents that indicates the person's legal status. An I-94 will indicate the status as well as the expiration date of the status and whether the status has been changed. All aliens must carry with them either an I-94 or a "green card".


An act which violates a statute, regulation or ordinance and which is punishable by a fine, jail or both.

illigitimate child

A natural child born to an unmarried woman.

immigrant status

The legal status of someone with permission to immigrate to the U.S.

immigrant visa

A travel document issued by a U.S. Consul allowing a person to seek admission to the U.S. for permanent residence.


A person who has a visa allowing her to be admitted to the U.S. permanently.

Immigration and Naturalization Service

An agency within the U.S. Department of Justice that is charged with administering the immigration laws at the border and within the U.S. Often called the "INS".


A person who would otherwise be guilty of a crime is granted exemption from all prosecution and penalties arising out of that crime. Most often, the government grants immunity in exchange for the promise to testify against another defendant against whom the government seeks to secure a conviction.


In cross examination, a prosecutor or defense lawyer may challenge the credibility of a witness by showing that the witness has not been truthful, by establishing prior inconsistent statements of that witness or by introducing evidence which goes to the witness as biased against the defendant.

implied contract

An agreement in which the terms are not expressly stated, but can be inferred from the conduct of the parties. For example, if two people put their salary checks in a joint checking account and use the account to pay household expenses, one may infer that there is an implied agreement to share the household expenses - even if the parties did not expressly say so.

implied employment contract

An employment contract between an employer and employee that is not written or even verbal, but rather "implied" from the circumstances of the worker's position. There are many factors that may prove that a worker has created an "implied" contract, including: 1) long term employment (the longer the worker is on the job, the better his claim), 2) promises of future employment (such as "as long as you do a good job, you can expect to keep your job"), 3) good performance reviews, 4) promotions, and 5) policies or employee manuals that state that the worker will be given "progressive discipline" (such as a letter of warning, followed by a suspension, etc.) rather than immediate discharge if the worker has problems at work.

implied warranty of habitability

A doctrine adopted by the courts that permits tenants to withhold rent or sue landlords if they fail to comply with housing codes.

implied covenant of quiet enjoyment

A requirement implied into a lease or rental agreement, under which a landlord promises not to disturb the tenant's right to peaceful possession of the property.

imputed outcome

Income which a spouse does not actually receive, but which a judge will consider in making a support order. Typically, income is imputed to a spouse if he or she could find gainful employment but chooses not to.


One of a number of bases for prohibiting a person from entering the U.S.

industrial lease

A lease for property used for factories and the like.

in forma pauperis

Person who is unable to pay court filing fees might be allowed to proceed "in forma pauperis", if the judge allows this. The party should ask the clerk of the court for forms that he may submit to show his lack of funds.

in camera

Latin for "in chambers." There are times when proposed evidence must be first examined by the court before allowing it to be shown to the jury. This commonly occurs in the privacy of the judge's chambers. A court reporter is usually present if the judge is prepared to accept arguments and make a ruling on the proposed evidence.

income and expense declaration

A document filed with the court in a divorce proceeding that itemizes a party's monthly income and expenses. The document is used by the judge in awarding spousal and child support.

in limine

A pretrial motion usually made for the purpose of suppressing or limiting certain testimony or physical evidence from the trial.


A defendant who cannot fully appreciate or understand the charges being brought against him or her and/or cannot assist in their defense may be judged incompetent to stand trial.

Often the defendant is institutionalized until such time that competency returns.

incompetent evidence

A court finding that certain proposed evidence not be allowed to be considered by the jury on the basis that the evidence is not sufficiently trustworthy, and thus not to be legally relevant to the case.


A statement, action or utterance that tends to prove the guilt of the person charged. Under our constitution, a person cannot be compelled to provide information that might be self-incriminating.

indecent exposure

The act of being naked in front of another in a public place. When the charge is combined with a sex charge, i.e., to obtain sexual gratification from the act of exposure, the penalties can be severe.


The judicial proceeding (preliminary hearing or grand jury) in which the sole determination is made of whether there is sufficient evidence to force a defendant to stand trial for felony charges. The burden of proof is very low. All the prosecutor needs to show is that it was more likely than not that the defendant committed the crime.


A person in poverty who cannot afford a lawyer to represent them in a criminal matter. In those cases, the person is appointed free counsel known as a public defender.


A formal criminal complaint usually in the form of a pleading itemizing with specificity the charging allegations, along with the factual and legal basis for the prosecution of the defendant.


One who is found to be not guilty of a crime.

in pro per

Abbreviation of in propia persona, meaning representing yourself without a lawyer.

in propria persona

A party who sues or defends against a suit without a lawyer is acting "in propria persona".

irreconcilelable differences

The standard basis for a divorce complaint in a no-fault divorce system; that the parties have irreconcilable differences.


The acronym for the "Immigration and Naturalization Service".

insanity defense

For criminal defense purposes it is the mental state of a defendant during a commission of crime, such that, at the time the defendant was committing the crime, he or she could not tell the difference between right and wrong nor did he or she appreciate the wrongfulness of conduct. This state of mind, if proved, can be a total and complete defense to a crime.

insider trading

The unlawful stock trading by a company insider such as a high-level employee who possesses confidential and nonpublic information about his company and thereafter trades stock to gain unfair advantage. The Securities and Exchange Commission enforces insider trading laws to protect the unsuspecting investing public.


The procedure conducted by an INS officer at a port of entry to determine whether a person should be admitted to the U.S.

insufficient evidence

A judicial finding that the evidence presented was legally insufficient to convict a person beyond a reasonable doubt.


Also known as "mens rea" or "criminal intent" it is the foundation of all criminal law. Our justice system demands that before one can be found guilty of a crime, the state must show that the person intended to do the crime. Without intent there can be no crime.

intentional infliction of emotional distress

A legal claim brought against an employer by an employee who suffered emotional distress at the hands of an employer whose conduct was so outrageous that a court would consider the conduct "beyond the bounds of common decency".

interim order

A temporary order pending a hearing and final order on the matter.


After a lawsuit is filed, either party may seek to "discover" information from the other party. One of the discovery devices is "written interrogatories" which ask the other party certain questions that must be answered in writingand is uderpenalty of purgery. These answers may be used against that party at trial.


A person is legally intoxicated when impaired to such a level the person is a danger to him or herself or to others. Drunk driving laws set intoxication as that level of impairment where one cannot operate a vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. Most states have laws establishing presumptive levels of intoxication. In many states that level is .08.


Any evidence which does not tend to prove or disprove a fact of consequence in the trial. However, almost any related issue can be argued to tend to prove something of consequence in the trial. The judge must rule on issues of relevancy based on fairness, due process and judicial expediency.

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