Dictionary of Law

competent :: legal definition

Competent - adj. 1) in general, able to act in the circumstances, including the ability to perform a job or occupation, or to reason or make decisions. 2) in wills, trusts and contracts, sufficiently mentally able to understand and execute a document. To be competent to make a will a person must understand what a will is, what he/she owns (although forgetting a few items among many does not show incompetency), and who are relatives who would normally inherit ("the natural objects of his/her bounty") such as children and spouse (although forgetting a child in a will is not automatic proof of lack of competency, since it may be intentional or the child has been long gone). 3) in criminal law, sufficiently mentally able to stand trial, if he/she understands the proceedings and can rationally deal with his/her lawyer. This is often broadly interpreted by psychiatrists whose testimony may persuade a court that a party is too psychotic to be tried. If the court finds incompetency then the defendant may be sent to a state mental facility until such time as he/she regains sanity. At that time a trial may be held, but this is rare. 4) in evidence, "competent" means "relevant" and/or "material." Lawyers often make the objection to evidence: "incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial" to cover all bases.

See also: evidence will and Related Law Terms ↓

Related Law Terms

abuse of discretion :: n. a polite way of saying a trial judge has made s ... partner's realistic ability to pay.
ad litem :: adj. legal Latin meaning "for the purposes of the ... of age. See also: guardian ad litem
admit :: v. 1) to state something is true in answering a co ... tted." See also: admission evidence
after-discovered evidence :: n. evidence found by a losing party after a trial ... also: evidence writ of coram nobis
alimony :: n. support paid by one ex-spouse to the other as o ... ild support divorce spousal support
appeal :: 1) v. to ask a higher court to reverse the decisio ... ng, as in "he has filed an appeal."
appearance :: n. the act of a party or an attorney showing up in ... neral appearance special appearance
arbitration :: n. a mini-trial, which may be for a lawsuit ready ... tance of the arbitrator's decision.
arrest :: v. 1) to take or hold a suspected criminal with le ... anda warning probable cause warrant
bifurcate :: v. the order or ruling of a judge that one issue i ... is necessary. See also: bifurcation
burden of proof :: n. the requirement that the plaintiff (the party b ... ence prima facie weight of evidence
calendar :: 1) n. the list of cases to be called for trial bef ... clerk of the court calendars cases.
charitable remainder trust (Charitable Remainder Irrevocable Unitrust) :: n. a form of trust in which the donor (trustor or ... ed up or committed. See also: trust
child custody :: n. a court's determination of which parent, relati ... pport custody divorce joint custody
clean hands doctrine :: n. a rule of law that a person coming to court wit ... ices. See also: affirmative defense
confession :: n. the statement of one charged with a crime that ... Miranda warning self-incrimination
conflict of interest :: n. a situation in which a person has a duty to mor ... a position adverse to the customer.
contempt of court :: n. there are essentially two types of contempt: a) ... roduce evidence. See also: sanction
court :: n. 1) the judge, as in "The court rules in favor o ... cost and wait of full court trials.
day in court :: n. popular term for everyone's opportunity to brin ... rt to protest his speeding ticket."
deposition :: n. the taking and recording of testimony of a witn ... See also: deponent depose discovery
dismiss :: v. the ruling by a judge that all or a portion (on ... nst that party. See also: dismissal
documentary evidence :: n. any document (paper) which is presented and all ... evancy. See also: document evidence
double jeopardy :: n. placing someone on trial a second time for an o ... that occurred thirty years earlier.
evidence :: n. every type of proof legally presented at trial ... material object objection relevant
examination :: n. 1) the questioning of a witness by an attorney. ... irect examination testimony witness
excessive bail :: n. an amount of bail ordered posted by an accused ... ppeal for reduction. See also: bail
excusable neglect :: n. a legitimate excuse for the failure of a party ... See also: default default judgment
expert witness :: n. a person who is a specialist in a subject, ofte ... sitions. See also: expert testimony
general appearance :: n. an attorney's representation of a client in cou ... case. See also: special appearance
Grand Jury :: n. a jury in each county or federal court district ... arge indictment preliminary hearing
guardian :: n. a person who has been appointed by a judge to t ... torship. See also: conservator ward
harmless error :: n. an error by a judge in the conduct of a trial w ... ar to be harmless." See also: error
hearing :: n. any proceeding before a judge or other magistra ... e hearing preliminary hearing trial
hearsay rule :: n. the basic rule that testimony or documents whic ... interest dying declaration hearsay
heir :: n. one who acquires property upon the death of ano ... y pretermitted heir succession will
impute :: v. 1) to attach to a person responsibility (and th ... also. See also: vicarious liability
incapacity :: adj. 1) not being able to perform any gainful empl ... of the will. See also: incompetent
incompetency :: n. the condition of lacking the ability to handle ... and/or represented by an attorney.
incompetent :: adj. 1) referring to a person who is not able to m ... n incompetency incompetent evidence
incompetent evidence :: n. testimony, documents or things which one side a ... ns. See also: incompetent objection
indictment :: n. a charge of a felony (serious crime) voted by a ... ictable offense preliminary hearing
indispensable party :: n. a person or entity which must be included in a ... tion to join Olivia as a defendant.
information :: n. an accusation or criminal charge brought by the ... Jury indictment preliminary hearing
information and belief :: n. a phrase often used in legal pleadings (complai ... nswer complaint declaration perjury
injunction :: n. a writ (order) issued by a court ordering someo ... t. See also: injunctive relief writ
insanity :: n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a p ... M'Naughten rule temporary insanity
insufficient evidence :: n. a finding (decision) by a trial judge or an app ... l court. See also: evidence finding
interrogatories :: n. a set of written questions to a party to a laws ... ing. See also: deposition discovery
irrelevant :: adj. not important, pertinent, or germane to the m ... ce immaterial incompetent objection
joint custody :: n. in divorce actions, a decision by the court (of ... em. See also: child custody divorce
joint tenancy :: n. a crucial relationship in the ownership of real ... ty property tenancy in common title
jump bail :: v. to fail to appear for a court appearance after ... also: bail bail bond bail bondsman
jurisdiction :: n. the authority given by law to a court to try ca ... Superior Court Supreme Court venue
jury fees :: n. the rather minimal amount paid each day to juro ... ees as a court cost. See also: jury
long cause :: n. a lawsuit in which it is estimated that a trial ... dar call court calendar short cause
mandate :: n. 1) any mandatory order or requirement under sta ... See also: mandamus writ of mandate
marked for identification :: adj. documents or objects presented during a trial ... exhibit lay a foundation objection
Miranda warning :: n. the requirement, also called the Miranda rule, ... me such a suspect? See also: rights
motion for dismissal :: (non-suit) n. application by a defendant in a laws ... otion for nonsuit. See also: motion
motion in limine :: (lim-in-nay) n. Latin for "threshold," a motion ma ... o: in limine Miranda warning motion
nisi prius :: : (nee-see pree-us) adj. Latin for "unless first," ... : original jurisdiction trial court
non-suit :: n. a ruling by the judge in a lawsuit either when ... the defendant. See also: dismissal
not guilty by reason of insanity :: n. plea in court of a person charged with a crime ... fense not guilty temporary insanity
notice :: n. 1) information, usually in writing in all legal ... Thirty-day notice three-day notice
objection :: n. a lawyer's protest about the legal propriety of ... ng question object overrule sustain
offer of proof :: n. an explanation made by an attorney to a judge d ... rial irrelevant objection testimony
overrule :: v. 1) to reject an attorney's objection to a quest ... : appellate court objection sustain
parens patriae :: (paa-rens pat-tree-eye) n. Latin for "father of hi ... pport custody divorce guardian ward
parole :: n. 1) the release of a convicted criminal defendan ... sed he will not take up arms again.
paternity suit :: n. a lawsuit, usually by a mother, to prove that a ... d to a prompt and quiet settlement.
plain error :: n. a mistake by the trial court found by a court o ... ire reversal of the trial decision.
plea :: n. 1) in criminal law, the response by an accused ... raignment plead preliminary hearing
preliminary hearing :: n. in criminal law, a hearing to determine if a pe ... nment charge Grand Jury information
pro hac vice :: : (proh hock vee-chay) prep. Latin for "this time ... association with a local attorney.
proof :: n. confirmation of a fact by evidence. In a trial, ... doubt preponderance of the evidence
record :: 1) v. (ree-cored) to put a document into the offic ... eeding race to the courthouse trial
relevant :: adj. having some reasonable connection with, and i ... nt." See also: irrelevant objection
reply brief :: n. the written legal argument of the respondent (t ... ee also: appeal appellee respondent
review :: n. the judicial consideration of a lower court jud ... ate court reversal reversible error
roadside test :: n. a preliminary test law enforcement officers use ... g while intoxicated Miranda warning
settlement :: n. the resolution of a lawsuit (or of a legal disp ... ult in settlement. See also: settle
shortening time :: n. an order of the court in response to the motion ... e notice is served within 24 hours.
small claims court :: n. a division of most municipal, city or other low ... od example of a small claims court.
speedy trial :: n. in criminal prosecutions, the right of a defend ... hurt by the waiver. See also: trial
stare decisis :: : (stah-ree duh-sigh-sis) n. Latin for "to stand b ... pellate court lower court precedent
status conference :: n. a pre-trial meeting of attorneys before a judge ... g a trial date. See also: discovery
statute of limitations :: n. a law which sets the maximum period which one c ... ies. See also: demurrer laches toll
summons :: n. a document issued by the court at the time a la ... use service service of process writ
sustain :: v. in trial practice, for a judge to agree that an ... /she will "overrule" the objection.
temporary injunction :: n. a court order prohibiting an action by a party ... ry injunction. See also: injunction
temporary insanity :: n. in a criminal prosecution, a defense by the acc ... diminished capacity insanity intent
testify :: v. to give oral evidence under oath in answer to q ... deposition evidence testimony trial
testimony :: n. oral evidence given under oath by a witness in ... tion evidence testify trial witness
transcript :: n. the written record of all proceedings, includin ... unless transcription is requested.
trial :: n. the examination of facts and law presided over ... at a hearing held at a later time.
trial court :: n. the court which holds the original trial, as di ... a court of appeals. See also: trial
trial de novo :: n. a form of appeal in which the appeals court hol ... from small claims court judgments.
ultimate fact :: n. in a trial, a conclusion of fact which is logic ... is not evidence. See also: evidence
ward :: n. 1) a person (usually a minor) who has a guardia ... ouncil district. See also: guardian
witness :: 1) n. a person who testifies under oath in a trial ... lso: deposition evidence trial will
writ of coram nobis :: : (writ of core-uhm noh-bis) n. from Latin for "in ... ment if known at the time of trial.

Popular Law Searches

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Other Law Terms - C

C.I.F. :: n. the total of cost, insurance and freight charge ... aid on goods purchased and shipped.
calendar :: 1) n. the list of cases to be called for trial bef ... clerk of the court calendars cases.
calendar call :: n. the hearing at which a case is set for trial. ... g at which a case is set for trial.
call :: n. the demand by a corporation that a stockholder ... assessment on shares already owned.
calumny :: n. the intentional and generally vicious false acc ... 's reputation. See also: defamation
cancel :: v. to cross out, annul, destroy, void and/or resci ... g, so that it cannot be used again.
cancellation :: cancel ... cancel
caning :: n. a punishment for crimes employed in certain Asi ... last century in the United States.
canon law :: n. laws and regulations over ecclesiastical (churc ... nduct with no religious connection.
cap :: n. slang for maximum, as the most interest that ca ... "adjustable rate" promissory note.
capital :: 1) n. from Latin for caput, meaning "head," the ba ... count capital assets stock in trade
capital account :: n. the record which lists all basic assets of a bu ... or the alleged value of good will.
capital assets :: n. equipment, property, and funds owned by a busin ... . See also: capital capital account
capital expenditure :: n. payment by a business for basic assets such as ... y intended to improve productivity.
capital gains :: n. the difference between the sales price and the ... so: basis delayed exchange exchange
capital investment :: capital expenditure ... capital expenditure
capital offense :: n. any criminal charge which is punishable by the ... . See also: bail capital punishment
capital punishment :: n. execution (death) for a capital offense. The U. ... or death. See also: capital offense
capital stock :: n. the original amount paid by investors into a co ... price. See also: corporation stock
capitalization :: n. 1) the act of counting anticipated earnings and ... for conversion into capital assets.