Dictionary of Law

principal :: legal definition

Principal - n. 1) main person in a business. 2) employer, the person hiring and directing employees (agents) to perform his/her/its business. It is particularly important to determine who is the principal since he/she/it is responsible for the acts of agents in the "scope of employment" under the doctrine of respondeat superior. 3) in criminal law, the main perpetrator (organizer and active committer) of a crime, as distinguished from an "accessory" who helps the principal in some fashion. The criminal principal is usually the person who originates the idea of committing the crime and/or directly carries it out, and is more likely to be charged with a higher degree of the crime, and receive a stiffer prison sentence. 4) adj. chief, leading, highest.

See also: accessory agency agent respondeat superior and Related Law Terms ↓

Related Law Terms

accessory :: n. a second-string player who helps in the commiss ... responsible. See also: aid and abet
accomplice :: n. someone who assists in the commission of a crim ... cipal criminal. See also: accessory
agency :: n. the relationship of a person (called the agent) ... ondeat superior scope of employment
agent :: n. a person who is authorized to act for another ( ... issues. See also: agency authority
apparent authority :: n. the appearance of being the agent of another (e ... e also: agency ostensible authority
arrest :: v. 1) to take or hold a suspected criminal with le ... anda warning probable cause warrant
attempt :: v. and n. to actually try to commit a crime and ha ... felt he tried but did not succeed.
authority :: n. permission, a right coupled with the power to d ... rize ostensible authority principal
Bill of Rights :: n. the first ten amendments to the federal Constit ... ved to the states or to the people.
burglary :: n. the crime of breaking and entering into a struc ... le. See also: breaking and entering
character witness :: n. a person who testifies in a trial on behalf of ... ases and civil cases such as fraud.
civil :: adj. 1) that part of the law that encompasses busi ... also: civil liberties civil rights
diversion :: n. in criminal procedure, a system for giving a ch ... second offense. See also: probation
entrapment :: n. in criminal law, the act of law enforcement off ... e drugs if not pressed by the narc?
equal opportunity :: 1) n. a right supposedly guaranteed by both federa ... be so. See also: affirmative action
escrow agent :: n. a person or entity holding documents and funds ... on local practice. See also: escrow
extradition :: n. the surrender by one state or country of a pers ... ty. See also: fugitive from justice
false arrest :: n. physically detaining someone without the legal ... sment. See also: false imprisonment
indictment :: n. a charge of a felony (serious crime) voted by a ... ictable offense preliminary hearing
insanity :: n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a p ... M'Naughten rule temporary insanity
intoxication :: n. 1) the condition of being drunk as the result o ... r. See also: vehicular manslaughter
jump bail :: v. to fail to appear for a court appearance after ... also: bail bail bond bail bondsman
kidnapping :: (also spelled kidnaping) n. the taking of a person ... but now applies to adults as well.
murder :: n. the killing of a human being by a sane person, ... premeditation second degree murder
negligence :: n. failure to exercise the care toward others whic ... gence per se res ipsa loquitur tort
no contest :: n. in criminal law, a defendant's plea in court th ... : nolo contendere plea plea bargain
nominee :: n. 1) a person or entity who is requested or named ... ic office. See also: agent executor
not guilty :: n. 1) plea of a person who claims not to have comm ... t guilty by reason of insanity plea
not guilty by reason of insanity :: n. plea in court of a person charged with a crime ... fense not guilty temporary insanity
own recognizance :: (O.R.) n. the basis for a judge allowing a person ... n recognizance. See also: bail O.R.
pardon :: 1) v. to use the executive power of a Governor or ... also: amnesty commutation reprieve
plea bargain :: n. in criminal procedure, a negotiation between th ... the ban. See also: cop a plea plea
promissory note :: n. a written promise by a person (variously called ... lso: interest obligee obligor usury
proof :: n. confirmation of a fact by evidence. In a trial, ... doubt preponderance of the evidence
prosecute :: v. 1) in criminal law, to charge a person with a c ... rney General prosecution prosecutor
ratification :: n. confirmation of an action which was not pre-app ... mployee). See also: agent principal
release on one's own recognizance :: v. for a judge to allow a criminal defendant pre-t ... ourtroom slang. See also: bail O.R.
respondeat superior :: (rehs-pond-dee-at superior) n. Latin for "let the ... : agency agent negligence principal
scope of employment :: n. actions of an employee which further the busine ... ter and servant respondeat superior
search and seizure :: n. examination of a person's premises (residence, ... robable cause search search warrant
sentence :: 1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted o ... ence restitution suspended sentence
service :: n. 1) paid work by another person, either by contr ... ersonal services service of process
temporary insanity :: n. in a criminal prosecution, a defense by the acc ... diminished capacity insanity intent
theft :: n. the generic term for all crimes in which a pers ... rglary embezzlement larceny robbery
undisclosed principal :: n. a person who uses an agent for his/her negotiat ... dispute. See also: agent principal
vicarious liability :: n. sometimes called "imputed liability," attachmen ... r or policeman. See also: liability
warrant :: 1) n. an order (writ) of a court which directs a l ... e search and seizure search warrant
withdrawal :: n. 1) in criminal law, leaving a conspiracy to com ... count. See also: check renunciation

Popular Law Searches

legal definition ministerial act :: n. an act, particularly of a governmental employee ... exercising any individual judgment.
chancery legal definition :: n. a court that can order acts performed. Today ch ... ts in most states. See also: equity
testamentary disposition legal definition :: n. how the terms of a will divide the testator's ( ... named beneficiaries. See also: will
contract of sufferance :: n. a "hold-over" tenancy after a lease has expired ... y tenancy at will unlawful detainer
forthwith legal definition :: adv. a term found in contracts, court orders and s ... mediacy, with no excuses for delay.
forthwith definition legal :: adv. a term found in contracts, court orders and s ... mediacy, with no excuses for delay.
what is to wit in a legal contract :: prep. that is to say. Example: "the passengers in ... tty Bumgartner and Sherry Younger."
mirror wills legal definition :: n. the wills of a husband and wife which are ident ... d each names the other as executor.
clean hands doctrine latin :: n. a rule of law that a person coming to court wit ... ices. See also: affirmative defense
sine qua non only relates to contract law :: (see-nay kwah nahn) prep. Latin for "without which ... qua non of the injury to Playmate.

Other Law Terms - P

paid into court :: adj. referring to money deposited with the clerk o ... differences. See also: interpleader
pain and suffering :: n. the physical and mental distress suffered from ... l damages special damages suffering
palimony :: n. a substitute for alimony in cases in which the ... the relationship. See also: alimony
pander :: 1) v. to solicit customers for a prostitute. 2) n. ... ons or favors. See also: prostitute
panderer :: n. 1) a person who panders or solicits for a prost ... special interests. See also: pander
panel :: n. the list of people selected to appear for jury ... or jury duty. See also: jury venire
paper hanger :: n. slang for a person who criminally writes and ca ... ey in them. See also: forgery fraud
par :: n. 1) an equal level. 2) the face value of a stock ... common stock preferred stock stock
paralegal :: n. a non-lawyer who performs routine tasks requiri ... h less than that for the attorneys.
paramount title :: n. a right to real property which prevails over an ... n's claim of title. See also: title
parcel :: n. a defined piece of real estate, usually resulti ... See also: real estate real property
pardon :: 1) v. to use the executive power of a Governor or ... also: amnesty commutation reprieve
parens patriae :: (paa-rens pat-tree-eye) n. Latin for "father of hi ... pport custody divorce guardian ward
parent :: n. the lawful and natural father or mother of a pe ... natural parent. See also: adoption
parental neglect :: n. a crime consisting of acts or omissions of a pa ... usive or sexually predatory person.
pari delicto :: adj. equal fault. See also: in pari delicto ... al fault. See also: in pari delicto
parish :: n. 1) a geographic area served by a church (partic ... overnmental equivalent of a county.
parody :: n. the humorous use of an existing song, play, or ... l significance. See also: copyright
parol :: adj. oral. See also: parol evidence rule ... oral. See also: parol evidence rule
parol evidence rule :: n. if there is evidence in writing (such as a sign ... or contradict the written document.