n. a traditional "right and wrong" test of legal insanity in criminal prosecutions. Under M'Naughten (its name comes from the trial of a notorious English assassin in the early 1800s), a defendant is legally insane if he/she cannot distinguish between right and wrong in regard to the crime with which he/she is charged. If the judge or the jury finds that the accused could not tell the difference, then there could not be criminal intent. Considering modern psychiatry and psychology, tests for lack of capacity to "think straight" (with lots of high-priced expert testi-mony) are used in most states either under the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code or the "Durham Rule."
n. slang for modus operandi, the way or pattern in which a repeat criminal usually commits his/her crime.
n. 1) a generic term for any judge of a court, or anyone officially performing a judge's functions. 2) in a few states, an officer of the court at the lowest level who hears small claims lawsuits, serves as a judge for charges of minor crimes and/or conducts preliminary hearings in criminal cases to determine if there is enough evidence presented by the prosecution to hold the accused for trial. 3) in federal courts, an official who conducts routine hearings assigned by the federal judges, including preliminary hearings in criminal cases.
n. Latin for "Great Charter," it was a document delineating a series of laws establishing the rights of English barons and major landowners and limiting the absolute authority of the King of England. It became the basis for the rights of English citizens. It was signed reluctantly by King John on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede, at a table set up in a field under a canopy surrounded by the armed gentry. The Magna Carta was confirmed by John's son, Henry III, and in turn by Henry's son, Edward I. As John Cowell would write four centuries later: "although this charter consists of not above thirty seven Charters or Lawes yet it is of such extent, as all the Law wee have, is thought in some form to depend on it." Essentially a document for the nobility, it became the basis of individual rights as a part of the English Constitution, which is generally more custom than written documents. It is also spelled Magna Charta.
n. in contract law, making a written offer or acceptance of offer valid if sent in the mail, with postage, within the time in which the offer must be accepted, unless the offer requires acceptance by personal delivery on or before the specified date. The rule may also apply to mailing payments of insurance premiums when due. However, relying on this so-called "rule" can be dangerous, since the party awaiting the acceptance or payment may cancel the offer if there is no response in hand when the time runs out.
v. to inflict a serious bodily injury, including mutilation or any harm which limits the victim's ability to function physically. Originally, in English common law it meant to cut off or permanently cripple a body part like an arm, leg, hand or foot. In criminal law, such serious harm becomes an "aggravated" assault, which is a felony subject to a prison term.
n. 1) the age when a person can exercise all normal legal rights, including contracting and voting. It is 18 for most purposes, but there are rights such as drinking alcoholic beverages which is set at 21. 2) 50 percent, plus one of votes cast.
v. 1) to create something. 2) to sign a check, promissory note, bill of exchange or some other note which guarantees, promises or orders payment of money.
make one whole
v. to pay or award damages sufficient to put the party who was damaged back into the position he/she would have been in without the fault of another.
n. 1) the person who signs a check or promissory note, which makes him/her responsible for payment. 2) a person who endorses a check or note over to another person before it is delivered, making the endorser obligated to pay until it is delivered.
n. intentionally doing something either legally or morally wrong which one had no right to do. It always involves dishonesty, illegality or knowingly exceeding authority for improper reasons. Malfeasance is distinguished from "misfeasance," which is committing a wrong or error by mistake, negligence or inadvertence, but not by intentional wrongdoing. Example: a city manager putting his indigent cousin on the city payroll at a wage the manager knows is above that allowed and/or letting him file false time cards is malfeasance; putting his able cousin on the payroll which, unknown to him, is a violation of an anti-nepotism statute is misfeasance. This distinction can apply to corporate officers, public officials, trustees and others cloaked with responsibility.
n. a conscious, intentional wrongdoing either of a civil wrong like libel (false written statement about another) or a criminal act like assault or murder, with the intention of doing harm to the victim. This intention includes ill-will, hatred or total disregard for the other's well-being. Often the mean nature of the act itself implies malice, without the party saying "I did it because I was mad at him, and I hated him," which would be express malice. Malice is an element in first degree murder. In a lawsuit for defamation (libel and slander) the existence of malice may increase the judgment to include general damages. Proof of malice is absolutely necessary for a "public figure" to win a lawsuit for defamation.
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