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Glossary of Legal Terms
(Starting with "T")

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


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take home pay

The amount of one's paycheck -after certain required deductions (such as taxes) are taken out of the "gross" pay.

tax evasion

The intentional defrauding of the government of taxes legally owed. Evasion is distinguished from the lawful interpretation of tax rules which can be challenged by either the government or the taxpayer.

tenacy by the eternity

A form of joint tenancy, available only to married couples, by which the death of one spouse causes that spouse's interest in the property to be transferred automatically to the surviving spouse.

tenacy in common

A form of owning property by more than one person, in which each person owns an undivided interest in the whole property. Unlike joint tenancy, the interests do not have to be equal, and upon the death of a tenant in common, his or her interest does not pass automatically to the co-tenants, but is disposed of in the same way as all other property.


Some who enters into occupation of property with the permission of the owner.

tenant association

Another name for a tenant union.

tenant at sufferance

A person who entered into occupancy of property with the landlord's permission but now occupies it illegally (e.g., because the lease has expired).

tenant at will

A person who occupies property with the landlord's permission with no clear agreement as to how long the tenant may stay. The law will usually allow either party to terminate a tenancy at will on 30 days written notice.

tenant union

A group of tenants who organize in order to further their common interests as tenants.


A general term ending an employee's employment. Also known as "discharge".


To give testimony in a court of law under oath in a criminal proceeding. The witness testifies under penalty of perjury. A witness is subject to direct and cross-examination by the prosecutor and defense lawyer.


The answering of questions or making of statements in a court of law under oath in a criminal proceeding. The witness testifies under penalty of perjury. A witness is subject to direct and cross-examination by the prosecutor and defense lawyer.


Crimes of larceny. Larceny is the unlawful and intentional taking of another person’s property with the intent to deprive that person of said property permanently. Larceny can be done by fraud, force or threat of force. In many states, the value of the property will dictate whether the crime will be charged as grand theft or petty theft.

three strikes

Many states have enacted laws which make life terms mandatory for offenders who have been convicted of three or more dangerous felonies. The societal goal behind "three strike laws" is to stamp out the presence of violent repeat offenders.

time rule

A formula for determining the portion of an employee's pension that is community property, based upon the number of years of work divided by the number of years married. For example, if a person earned a pension after working 20 years but was married for only 10 of those years, the community interest in the pension is 10/20 - or 50%. The other 50% is the separate property of the employed spouse.

time served

That length of time the criminal defendant has been in jail while awaiting trial. Often a judge will give a defendant credit for the "waiting time" served when sentencing.


Ownership of property as shown by the name on an appropriate document. Title to property may be held by either spouse, by both spouses, or by a spouse and other individuals. Titled property can be both real (land, a house) or personal (stock certificates, bank accounts, etc.).

Title VII

The section of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits certain types of discrimination in the workplace, such as racial or national origin discrimination. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

tools of the trade

Property a debtor needs to perform his or her job. A portion of tools of the trade is exempt property and may be retained by a debtor who files bankruptcy.


A civil wrong which injures another - for example, an automobile accident where one of the drivers is negligent.

total loss

A vehicle is declared a total loss if the cost of repairing the vehicle is greater than the value of the vehicle.


The method of determining whether property possessed at the time of the divorce was purchased with marital or non-marital property.

trade secret

Confidential company information that an employee knows about only because the employee worked for the employer. For information to be a "trade secret," the employer must make sure that the information doesn't become generally available to the public.


Changing, by agreement, the nature of property owned by spouses. Separate property of one spouse might be "transmuted" into separate property of the other or into community property, and community property might "transmuted" into the separate property of either spouse.


The formal judicial proceeding by which a person is judged guilty or not guilty. The proceeding is guided by rules of evidence and procedure to safeguard against unfair prejudice. All issues surrounding rules and procedure are decided by the judge exclusively. A jury decides all questions of fact. Sometimes, in court trials without a jury the judge is both the finder of fact and law.


A person who enters upon property without the permission of the person who is entitled to possession. (A landlord who enters a tenant's apartment without permission of the tenant or authority of state law is a trespasser.)


The person in charge of a bankruptcy. In an ordinary Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee's duty is to gather and sell the debtor's non-exempt property and divide the sales proceeds among creditors. In a Chapter 13 wage earner's plan, the trustee's duty is to make the payments to creditors as specified in the plan.

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