Dictionary of Law
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.
parole :: n. 1) the release of a convicted criminal defendan ... sed he will not take up arms again.
partial :: adj. not complete or entire. See also: partial bre ... : partial breach partial disability
partial breach :: n. the failure to meet a term of a contract which ... g in the missing or expected items.
partial disability :: n. the result of an injury which permanently reduc ... erson's normal functioning is gone.
partial verdict :: n. in a criminal trial, the result when the jury f ... re other charges. See also: verdict
participate :: v. to invest and then receive a part or share, as ... he estate of a person who has died.
partition :: n. a lawsuit which one co-owner of real property c ... sell, keep or divide the property.
partner :: n. 1) one of the co-owners and investors in a "par ... ner limited partnership partnership
partnership :: n. a business enterprise entered into for profit w ... partnership partner silent partner
party :: n. 1) one of the participants in a lawsuit or othe ... y real party in interest respondent
party of the first part :: n. reference in a written contract to identify one ... ies another party to the agreement.
party of the second part :: n. a reference to a party to a written contract, a ... " See also: party of the first part
party wall :: n. a wall shared by two adjoining premises which i ... the property of one of the parties.
passenger :: n. a rider who has paid a fare on a train, bus, ai ... also: common carrier guest statute
passion :: n. See also: heat of passion ... n. See also: heat of passion
passive :: adj. referring to being inactive. A "passive trust ... ment and interest on bank accounts.
patent :: 1) adj. obvious. Used in such expressions as a "pa ... patent infringement patent pending
patent ambiguity :: n. an obvious inconsistency in the language of a w ... the language of a written document.
patent defect :: n. an obvious flaw in a product or a document (suc ... he property description in a deed).
patent infringement :: n. the manufacture and/or use of an invention or i ... not. See also: infringement patent
patent pending :: n. often abbreviated to "pat. pend." or "pat. pend ... yet been granted. See also: patent
paternity suit :: n. a lawsuit, usually by a mother, to prove that a ... d to a prompt and quiet settlement.
pawn :: v. to pledge an item of personal property as secur ... nsed by the state. See also: pledge
pay :: v. to deliver money owed. ... v. to deliver money owed.
payable :: 1) adj. referring to a debt which is due. A debt m ... liabilities (debts) of a business.
payable on demand :: adj. a debt on a promissory note or bill of exchan ... e (party to whom the debt is owed).
payee :: n. the one named on a check or promissory note to ... promissory note to receive payment.
payment in due course :: n. the giving of funds to the holder of a promisso ... nds. See also: holder in due course
payment in full :: n. the giving of all funds due to another. This la ... ee accepts the payment as complete.
payor :: (payer) n. the party who must make payment on a pr ... make payment on a promissory note.
peace bond :: n. a bond required as part of a court order to gua ... ee also: injunction stay away order
peaceable possession :: n. in real estate, holding property without any ad ... to possession or title by another.
peculation :: n. misappropriation of public (government) funds o ... roperty. See also: misappropriation
pecuniary :: adj. relating to money, as in "pecuniary loss." ... g to money, as in "pecuniary loss."
pedophilia :: n. an obsession with children as sex objects. Over ... also: molestation pornography rape
peeping tom :: n. a person who stealthily peeks into windows, hol ... n the basis of invasion of privacy.
peer :: n. an equal. A "jury of one's peers," to which cri ... eria. See also: jury of one's peers
peer review :: n. an examination and evaluation of the performanc ... claiming damages due to negligence.
penal :: adj. referring to criminality, as in defining "pen ... ntiary confining convicted felons).
penalty :: n. 1) in criminal law, a money fine or forfeiture ... contractor fails to complete a job.
pendent jurisdiction :: n. in federal procedure, the policy that allows a ... n. (It also may be spelled: pendant
pendente lite :: (pen-den-tay lee-tay) adj. Latin for awaiting the ... enforced until the lawsuit is over.
penitentiary :: n. a state or federal prison in which convicts are ... mission of major crimes (felonies).
people :: n. the designation for the prosecuting government ... secutions, United States v. Miller.
per :: prep. from Latin for "by means of" or simply, "by" ... (by day) or "per capita" (by head).
per capita :: adj. Latin for "by head," meaning to be determined ... ivided equally among those persons.
per curiam :: adj. Latin for "by the court," defining a decision ... dentified as the specif- ic author.
per diem :: adj. or n. Latin for "per day," it is short for pa ... or fees of an employee or an agent.
per se :: (purr say) adj. Latin for "by itself," meaning inh ... e statement. See also: libel per se
per stirpes :: (purr stir-peas) adj. Latin for "by roots," by rep ... descent and distribution trust will
peremptory :: adj. absolute, final and not entitled to delay or ... allenges or a date set for hearing.
peremptory challenge :: n. the right of the plaintiff and the defendant in ... challenge for cause jury voir dire
peremptory writ of mandate :: (or mandamus) n. a final order of a court to any g ... ve writ. See also: mandamus mandate
perfect :: : (with stress on the second syllable) v. 1) to co ... perfect. See also: mechanic's lien
perfected :: adj. having completed all necessary legal steps to ... itle to property. See also: perfect
perform :: v. 1) to fulfill one's obligations under a contrac ... court order. See also: performance
performance :: n. fulfillment of one's obligations required by co ... nce. See also: specific performance
perjurer :: n. a person who intentionally lies while under an ... alse information. See also: perjury
perjury :: n. the crime of intentionally lying after being du ... ly made a mistake or misunderstood.
permanent disability :: n. an injury which impairs the physical and/or men ... t injury Workers' Compensation Acts
permanent injunction :: n. a final order of a court that a person or entit ... ary injunction temporary injunction
permanent injury :: n. physical or mental damage which will restrict t ... ges. See also: permanent disability
permissive :: adj. 1) referring to any act which is allowed by c ... ting contrary to others' standards.
permit :: 1) v. to allow by silence, agreement or giving a l ... f public revenue. See also: license
perpetuity :: n. forever. See also: in perpetuity rule against p ... erpetuity rule against perpetuities
person :: n. 1) a human being. 2) a corporation treated as h ... amages. See also: corporation party
personal effects :: n. things which include clothes, cosmetics and ite ... e, Susannah"). See also: personalty
personal property :: n. same as "personalty." See also: personalty ... "personalty." See also: personalty
personal service :: n. delivering a summons, complaint, notice to quit ... process substituted service summons
personal services :: n. in contract law, the talents of a person which ... his/her unique ability and product.
personalty :: n. movable assets (things, including animals) whic ... lso: personal effects real property
petit jury :: n. old-fashioned name for the jury sitting to hear ... r duties. See also: Grand Jury jury
petition :: 1) n. a formal written request to a court for an o ... dent. See also: divorce motion writ
petitioner :: n. one who signs and/or files a petition. See also ... iles a petition. See also: petition
petty larceny :: n. a term used in many states for theft of a small ... emeanor in charging and sentencing.
physician-patient privilege :: n. the right and obligation of a physician to refu ... onfidential communication privilege
picketing :: n. standing or parading near a business or governm ... es or threats to the public safety.
pierce the corporate veil :: v. to prove that a corporation exists merely as a ... ling with it. See also: corporation
pilferage :: n. a crime of theft of little things, usually from ... ipments or baggage. See also: theft
pimp :: n. a person who procures a prostitute for customer ... also: pander panderer prostitution
pink slip :: n. 1) slang for official automobile registration c ... being fired or laid off from a job.
piracy :: n. the crime of robbery of ships or boats on the o ... here the accused has been captured.
plagiarism :: n. taking the writings or literary concepts (a plo ... d. See also: copyright infringement
plain error :: n. a mistake by the trial court found by a court o ... ire reversal of the trial decision.
plain view doctrine :: n. the rule that a law enforcement officer may mak ... : search and seizure search warrant
plaintiff :: n. the party who initiates a lawsuit by filing a c ... lso: complaint defendant petitioner
plaintiff's attorney :: n. the attorney who represents a plaintiff (the su ... ee also: defense attorney plaintiff
plea :: n. 1) in criminal law, the response by an accused ... raignment plead preliminary hearing
plea bargain :: n. in criminal procedure, a negotiation between th ... the ban. See also: cop a plea plea
plea in abatement :: n. See also: plea ... n. See also: plea
plead :: v. 1) in civil lawsuits and petitions, to file any ... al conduct. See also: plea pleading
pleading :: n. 1) every legal document filed in a lawsuit, pet ... nswer complaint demurrer plea plead
pledge :: v. to deposit personal property as security for a ... ise to do something. See also: pawn
plenary :: adj. full, complete, covering all matters, usually ... ring to an order, hearing or trial.
police court :: n. in some states a type of municipal court which ... municipal court preliminary hearing
police powers :: n. from the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, wh ... host of state regulatory statutes.
political question :: n. the determination by a court (particularly the ... ne-vote," as constitutional issues.
polygamy :: n. having more than one wife or husband at the sam ... ime in all states. See also: bigamy
polygraph :: n. a lie detector device, from Greek for "many" (p ... swered. See also: lie detector test
pornography :: n. pictures and/or writings of sexual activity int ... courts to follow. See also: obscene
positive law :: n. statutory man-made law, as compared to "natural ... 651). See also: natural law statute
posse comitatus :: (pahs-see coh-mitt-tah-tus) n. from Latin for "pos ... group is called a posse for short.
possess :: v. to own, have title to, occupy, physically hold ... ng the estate. See also: possession
possession :: n. 1) any article, object, asset or property which ... ctive possession. See also: possess
possession of stolen goods :: n. the crime of possession of goods which one know ... e legal owner. See also: possession
possessory interest :: n. in real estate, the intent and right of a perso ... o: possess possession real property
possibility of a reverter :: n. the potential that the title to a real property ... further issue. See also: reversion
post :: v. 1) to place a notice on the entrance or a promi ... or recording a payment. 4) to mail.
post mortem :: n. Latin for "after death," an examination of a de ... alled an autopsy. See also: coroner
postdated check :: n. a check delivered now with a written date in th ... livery of a bad check was criminal.
pot :: n. slang for marijuana, an illeg- al narcotic. ... r marijuana, an illeg- al narcotic.
pour over will :: n. a will of a person who has already executed a t ... invalid trust. See also: trust will
power :: n. the right, authority and ability to take some a ... g legal rights and many other acts.
power of acceptance :: n. the ability to accept an offer and thus create ... ecide to accept the original offer.
power of appointment :: n. the right to leave property by will, transfer, ... death of the person with the power.
power of attorney :: n. a written document signed by a person giving an ... y, as in a real estate transaction.
practicable :: adj. when something can be done or performed. ... something can be done or performed.
practice :: 1) n. custom or habit as shown by repeated action, ... s "she practices law in St. Louis."
pray :: v. to formally request judicial judgment, relief a ... laint or petition. See also: prayer
prayer :: n. the specific request for judgment, relief and/o ... ee also: complaint default judgment
precatory :: adj. referring to a wish or advisory suggestion wh ... lutely prevent her from selling it.
precedent :: 1) n. a prior reported opinion of an appeals court ... to perform. See also: stare decisis
predecease :: v. to die before someone else, as "if my brother, ... estate I give to his son, Eugene."
preemption :: n. the rule of law that if the federal government ... cs control may parallel each other.
preemptive right :: n. the right of a shareholder in a corporation to ... also: corporation shareholder stock
preference :: n. in bankruptcy, the payment of a debt to one cre ... nds or assets. See also: bankruptcy
preferred dividend :: n. a payment of a corporation's profits to holders ... of stock. See also: preferred stock
preferred stock :: n. a class of shares of stock in a corporation whi ... on stock corporation dividend stock
preliminary hearing :: n. in criminal law, a hearing to determine if a pe ... nment charge Grand Jury information
preliminary injunction :: n. a court order made in the early stages of a law ... ent injunction temporary injunction
premeditation :: n. planning, plotting or deliberating before doing ... e murder malice aforethought murder
premises :: n. 1) in real estate, land and the improvements on ... t). See also: real estate structure
premium :: n. 1) payment for insurance coverage either in a l ... ent for an act, option or priority.
prenuptial agreement :: n. also called an antenuptial agreement, a written ... been "taken" by a previous spouse.
preponderance of the evidence :: n. the greater weight of the evidence required in ... what subjective. See also: evidence
prerogative writ :: n. an historic generic term for any writ (court or ... ls or another court. See also: writ
prescription :: n. the method of acquiring an easement upon anothe ... ty. See also: prescriptive easement
prescriptive easement :: n. an easement upon another's real property acquir ... on. See also: easement prescription
presentment :: n. 1) making a demand for payment of a promissory ... ee also: Grand Jury promissory note
presiding judge :: n. 1) in both state and federal appeals court, the ... and chairs meetings of the judges.
presumption :: n. a rule of law which permits a court to assume a ... resumption at all, but a certainty.
presumption of innocence :: n. a fundamental protection for a person accused o ... yond a reasonable doubt presumption
pretermitted heir :: n. the child of a person who has written a will in ... cified $10,000 each. See also: heir
pretrial discovery :: n. See also: discovery ... n. See also: discovery
prevailing party :: n. the winner in a lawsuit. Many contracts, leases ... ed before or after trial has begun.
price fixing :: n. a criminal violation of federal antitrust statu ... stributors to beat the competition.
prima facie :: : (pry-mah fay-shah) adj. Latin for "at first look ... t" case. See also: prima facie case
prima facie case :: n. a plaintiff's lawsuit or a criminal charge whic ... en and shut." See also: prima facie
prime suspect :: n. the one person law enforcement officers believe ... in trial. See also: Miranda warning
primogeniture :: n. from Latin for "first born," the ancient rule f ... oes not exist in the United States.
principal :: n. 1) main person in a business. 2) employer, the ... ry agency agent respondeat superior
principal place of business :: n. location of head office of a business where the ... business to the Secretary of State.
prior restraint :: n. an attempt to prevent publication or broadcast ... e words of Sir William Blackstone).
prior(s) :: n. slang for a criminal defendant's previous recor ... es for the third felony conviction.
priority :: n. the right to be first or ahead of the rights or ... (in the "race to the courthouse").
privacy :: n. the right to be free of unnecessary public scru ... lso: public figure right to privacy
private carrier :: n. one who provides transportation or delivery of ... also: common carrier guest statute
private nuisance :: n. the interference with an individual's peaceful ... See also: nuisance public nuisance
private parts :: n. men's or women's genitalia, excluding a woman's ... duction and/or sale of pornography.
private property :: n. land not owned by the government or dedicated t ... ernment or dedicated to public use.
private road :: n. a road or driveway on privately owned property, ... ng. See also: prescriptive easement
privilege :: n. a special benefit, exemption from a duty, or im ... rson, a group or a class of people.
privilege against self incrimina-tion :: n. a right to refuse to testify against oneself in ... so: Bill of Rights taking the Fifth
privileged communication :: n. statements and conversations made under circums ... See also: attorney-client privilege
privileges and immunities :: n. the fundamental rights that people enjoy in fre ... t impinge on constitutional rights.
privity :: n. contact, connection or mutual interest between ... with the seller. See also: contract
pro bono :: adj. short for pro bono publico, Latin for "for th ... cation organizations and charities.
pro forma :: 1) prep. Latin for "as a matter of form," the phra ... se in annual sales or 6% inflation.
pro hac vice :: : (proh hock vee-chay) prep. Latin for "this time ... association with a local attorney.
pro per :: adj. short for "propria persona," which is Latin f ... in propria persona propria persona
pro rata :: (proh rat-ah or proh ray-tah) adj. from Latin for ... e year in which he/she holds title.
pro se :: (proh say) prep. Latin for "for himself." A party ... o se." See also: in propria persona
pro tanto :: : (proh tahn-toe) Latin for "only to that extent." ... r payments for one year, pro tanto.
pro tem :: 1) adj. short for the Latin pro tempore, temporari ... as "Sam Collins is Pro Tem today."
pro tempore :: (proh temp-oh-ray): See also: pro tem ... roh temp-oh-ray): See also: pro tem
probable cause :: n. sufficient reason based upon known facts to bel ... of Rights search search and seizure
probate :: 1) n. the process of proving a will is valid and t ... e also: administrator executor will
probation :: n. a chance to remain free (or serve only a short ... See also: attorney-client privilege
probative :: adj. in evidence law, tending to prove something. ... so: probative facts probative value
probative facts :: n. evidence which tends to prove something which i ... See also: probative probative value
probative value :: n. evidence which is sufficiently useful to prove ... prior actions. See also: probative
procedure :: n. the methods and mechanics of the legal process. ... cases are tried and judgments made.
proceeding :: n. any legal filing, hearing, trial and/or judgmen ... edings," as in "legal proceedings."
process :: n. in law, the legal means by which a person is re ... service of process subpena summons
process server :: n. a person who serves (delivers) legal papers in ... table. See also: service of process
proctor :: n. 1) in admiralty (maritime) law, an attorney. 2) ... ttorney. 2) person who keeps order.
product liability :: n. the responsibility of manufacturers, distributo ... e known. See also: warrant warranty
professional corporation :: n. a corporation formed for the purpose of conduct ... rofessionals. See also: corporation
professional negligence :: n. See also: malpractice ... n. See also: malpractice
proffer :: v. to offer evidence in a trial. ... v. to offer evidence in a trial.
prohibition :: n. forbidding an act or activity. A court order fo ... icial. See also: injunction mandate
promise :: 1) n. a firm agreement to perform an act, refrain ... so: consideration contract covenant
promissory estoppel :: n. a false statement treated as a promise by a cou ... lue of his work. See also: estoppel
promissory note :: n. a written promise by a person (variously called ... lso: interest obligee obligor usury
promoter :: n. a person who puts together a business, particul ... y effort and not by assets or cash.
promotional stock :: n. stock issued in a newly formed corporation and ... assets or money. See also: promoter
proof :: n. confirmation of a fact by evidence. In a trial, ... doubt preponderance of the evidence
proper party :: n. a person or entity who has an interest (financi ... lf. See also: necessary party party
property :: n. anything that is owned by a person or entity. P ... rty real property separate property
property damage :: n. injury to real or personal property through ano ... l value. See also: damages property
property tax :: n. an annual governmental tax on real property or ... are made. See also: ad valorem tax
propria persona :: adj. from Latin, for oneself. See also: in pro per ... pro per in propria persona pro per
proprietary :: adj. referring to ownership. ... adj. referring to ownership.
proprietary interest :: n. a total or partial ownership. ... n. a total or partial ownership.
proprietary rights :: n. those rights which go with ownership of real pr ... hip of real property or a business.
proprietor :: n. the owner of anything, but particularly the own ... siness operated by that individual.
prosecute :: v. 1) in criminal law, to charge a person with a c ... rney General prosecution prosecutor
prosecution :: n. 1) in criminal law, the government attorney cha ... se). See also: prosecute prosecutor
prosecutor :: n. generic term for the government's attorney in a ... ee also: Attorney General prosecute
prospectus :: n. a detailed statement by a corporation required ... rporation limited partnership stock
prostitute :: n. a person who receives payment for sexual interc ... also: pander panderer prostitution
prostitution :: n. the profession of performing sexual acts for mo ... so: pander panderer pimp prostitute
protective custody :: n. the act of law enforcement officials in placing ... ical harm or death if they testify.
protest :: 1) v. to complain in some public way about any act ... dishonored (not paid by the bank).
prove :: v. to present evidence and/or logic that makes a f ... t or criminal case. See also: proof
provisional remedy :: n. a generic term for any temporary order of a cou ... ing. See also: temporary injunction
proviso :: n. a term or condition in a contract or title docu ... on in a contract or title document.
proximate cause :: n. a happening which results in an event, particul ... also: intervening cause negligence
proxy :: n. 1) someone who is authorized to serve in one's ... d members and convention delegates.
prudent man rule :: n. the requirement that a trustee, investment mana ... (1994). See also: fiduciary trustee
public :: 1) n. the people of the nation, state, county, dis ... lands and public and private roads.
public administrator :: n. a county official with the responsibility to ha ... ian is available. See also: probate
public benefit corporation :: n. a term used in some states for a nonprofit comm ... ts and Lions. See also: corporation
public charge :: n. a general term for an indigent, sick or severel ... be taken care of at public expense.
public corporation :: n. a corporation created to perform a governmental ... or hospital. See also: corporation
public defender :: n. an elected or appointed public official (usuall ... to convicted indigents for appeals.
public domain :: n. 1) in copyright law, the right of anyone to use ... al governments. See also: copyright
public easement :: n. the right of the general public to use certain ... lso: easement prescriptive easement
public figure :: n. in the law of defamation (libel and slander), a ... See also: defamation libel slander
public nuisance :: n. a nuisance which affects numerous members of th ... y the neighbors. See also: nuisance
public property :: n. property owned by the government or one of its ... l public. See also: common property
public record :: n. any information, minutes, files, accounts or ot ... l judgment are both public records.
public trust doctrine :: n. the principle that the government holds title t ... interest has been dubious at best.
public use :: n. the only purpose for which private property can ... e also: condemnation eminent domain
public utility :: n. any organization which provides services to the ... nder state laws. See also: monopoly
publication :: n. 1) anything made public by print (as in a news- ... so: defamation libel notice slander
publish :: v. to make public to at least one other person by ... by any means. See also: publication
puffing :: n. the exaggeration of the good points of a produc ... seller is possible. See also: fraud
punitive damages :: n. (synony- mous with exemplary damages), damages ... t acts. See also: exemplary damages
putative :: adj. commonly believed, supposed or claimed. Thus ... not the last will of the deceased.