Dictionary of Law

civil :: legal definition

Civil - adj. 1) that part of the law that encompasses business, contracts, estates, domestic (family) relations, accidents, negligence and everything related to legal issues, statutes and lawsuits, that is not criminal law. In a few areas civil and criminal law may overlap or coincide. For example, a person may be liable under a civil lawsuit for negligently killing a pedestrian with his auto by running over the person and be charged with the crime of vehicular homicide due to his/her reckless driving. Assault may bring about arrest by the police under criminal law and a lawsuit by the party attacked under civil law. 2) referring to one's basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution (and the interpretations and statutes intended to implement the enforcement of those rights) such as voting, equitable taxation, freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly. Generally these are referred to as "civil rights," which have required constant diligence and struggle to ensure and expand, as in the Civil Rights movement between 1950 and 1980. Violation of one's civil rights may be a crime under federal and/or state statutes. Civil rights include civil liberties. Civil liberties emphasize protection from infringement upon basic freedoms, while statutory rights are based on laws passed by Congress or state legislatures.

See also: civil liberties civil rights and Related Law Terms ↓

Related Law Terms

abduction :: n. the criminal taking away of a person by persuas ... g of children. See also: kidnapping
account stated :: n. a statement between a creditor or the person to ... ending on the state. See also: debt
acknowledgment :: n. the section at the end of a document where a no ... me leases and various other papers.
ad litem :: adj. legal Latin meaning "for the purposes of the ... of age. See also: guardian ad litem
administrative law :: n. the procedures created by administrative agenci ... judge Administrative Procedure Act
administrator :: n. the person appointed by the court to handle the ... e also: administer executor probate
adoption :: n. the taking of a child into one's family, creati ... the child are met. See also: adopt
advisory opinion :: n. an opinion stated by a judge or a court upon th ... o: actual controversy friendly suit
American Civil Liberties Union :: n. a membership organization founded in 1920 to de ... rk, NY 10036; tel.: (212) 944-9800.
antitrust laws :: n. acts adopted by Congress to outlaw or restrict ... so: price fixing restraint of trade
arrest :: v. 1) to take or hold a suspected criminal with le ... anda warning probable cause warrant
articles of incorporation :: n. the basic charter of a corporation which spells ... year's taxes. See also: corporation
attempt :: v. and n. to actually try to commit a crime and ha ... felt he tried but did not succeed.
attorney :: n. 1) an agent or someone authorized to act for an ... ialize. See also: court reciprocity
Attorney General :: n. in each state and the federal government the hi ... izenry. See also: Solicitor General
bankruptcy :: n. a federal system of statutes and courts which p ... y proceedings trustee in bankruptcy
bar examination :: n. the examination given in each state by either t ... n that district. See also: attorney
Bill of Rights :: n. the first ten amendments to the federal Constit ... ved to the states or to the people.
brief :: 1) n. a written legal argument, usually in a forma ... another person. See also: precedent
burglary :: n. the crime of breaking and entering into a struc ... le. See also: breaking and entering
canon law :: n. laws and regulations over ecclesiastical (churc ... nduct with no religious connection.
capital offense :: n. any criminal charge which is punishable by the ... . See also: bail capital punishment
care :: n. in law, to be attentive, prudent and vigilant. ... she is involved. See also: careless
case law :: n. reported decisions of appeals courts and other ... es. See also: case system precedent
cause of action :: n. the basis of a lawsuit founded on legal grounds ... property. See also: element lawsuit
character witness :: n. a person who testifies in a trial on behalf of ... ases and civil cases such as fraud.
chattel mortgage :: n. an outmoded written document which made a chatt ... ed by the property. See also: UCC-1
child custody :: n. a court's determination of which parent, relati ... pport custody divorce joint custody
citation :: n. 1) a notice to appear in court due to the proba ... se is not in point." See also: cite
civil action :: n. any lawsuit relating to civil matters and not c ... inal prosecution. See also: lawsuit
civil calendar :: n. the list of lawsuits (cases) that are approachi ... y sent to trial. See also: calendar
civil law :: n. 1) a body of laws and legal concepts which come ... generic term for non-criminal law.
civil liberties :: n. rights or freedoms given to the people by the F ... nment. See also: civil civil rights
civil procedure :: n. the complex and often confusing body of rules a ... l civil action civil code civil law
civil rights :: n. those rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, ... ill of Rights civil civil liberties
code :: n. a collection of written laws gathered together, ... utes or laws. See also: law statute
color of law :: n. the appearance of an act being performed based ... xtort payoffs to forget the ticket.
comity :: n. when one court defers to the jurisdiction of an ... of cases to which comity may apply.
common law :: n. the traditional unwritten law of England, based ... plied without reference to statute.
commutation :: n. the act of reducing a criminal sentence resulti ... See also: executive clemency pardon
comparative negligence :: n. a rule of law applied in accident cases to dete ... utory negligence damages negligence
concealed weapon :: n. a weapon, particularly a handgun, which is kept ... ions, arrests or improper activity.
confess :: v. in criminal law, to voluntarily state that one ... Miranda warning self-incrimination
conflict of law :: n. a situation in which both state and federal law ... y arose. See also: forum preemption
constitution :: n. the fundamental, underlying document which esta ... ts common law constitutional rights
constitutional rights :: n. rights given or reserved to the people by the U ... e also: Bill of Rights constitution
consumer protection laws :: n. almost all states and the federal government ha ... rranty product liability securities
contributory negligence :: n. a doctrine of common law that if a person was i ... : comparative negligence negligence
controlling law :: n. the laws of the state which will be relied upon ... will be that of a particular state.
copyright :: 1) n. the exclusive right of the author or creator ... plagiarism public domain trademark
corporation :: n. an organization formed with state governmental ... ation public corporation securities
count :: n. each separate statement in a complaint which st ... also: cause of action common counts
court :: n. 1) the judge, as in "The court rules in favor o ... cost and wait of full court trials.
d.b.a. :: n. short for "doing business as," when a person or ... that is registered with the state.
demurrer :: n. (dee-muhr-ur) a written response to a complaint ... demurrer. See also: motion pleading
descent :: n. the rules of inheritance established by law in ... on inheritance intestate succession
discrimination :: n. unequal treatment of persons, for a reason whic ... qual rights. See also: civil rights
disinherit :: v. to intentionally take actions to guarantee that ... rorem clause pretermitted heir will
dismissal :: n. 1) the act of voluntarily terminating a crimina ... f the settlement. See also: dismiss
diversion :: n. in criminal procedure, a system for giving a ch ... second offense. See also: probation
domicile :: n. the place where a person has his/her permanent ... where its headquarters is located.
double jeopardy :: n. placing someone on trial a second time for an o ... that occurred thirty years earlier.
dower :: n. an old English common law right of a widow to o ... t and distribution widow's election
driving under the influence (DUI) :: n. commonly called "drunk driving," it refers to o ... (DWI), drunk driving, or a "deuce".
due process of law :: n. a fundamental principle of fairness in all lega ... procedural and substantive rights.
duty of care :: n. a requirement that a person act toward others a ... e also: negligence standard of care
ejusdem generis :: (eh-youse-dem generous) v adj. Latin for "of the s ... t was of land-based transportation.
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
equal protection of the law :: n. the right of all persons to have the same acces ... laws." See also: due process of law
equity :: n. 1) a venerable group of rights and procedures t ... ry enjoin equitable injunction writ
error :: n. a mistake by a judge in procedure or in substan ... or. See also: harmless error remand
ex post facto :: adj. Latin for "after the fact," which refers to l ... ted before the new law was adopted.
extradition :: n. the surrender by one state or country of a pers ... ty. See also: fugitive from justice
extrinsic fraud :: n. fraudulent acts which keep a person from obtain ... it. See also: fraud intrinsic fraud
fair comment :: n. a statement of opinion (no matter how ludicrous ... amation libel public figure slander
fair trade laws :: n. state laws which permit manufacturers or produc ... state constitutions in many states.
false arrest :: n. physically detaining someone without the legal ... sment. See also: false imprisonment
felony :: n. 1) a crime sufficiently serious to be punishabl ... ion. See also: misdemeanor sentence
fraud :: n. the intentional use of deceit, a trick or some ... audulent conveyance intrinsic fraud
fugitive from justice :: n. a person convicted or accused of a crime who hi ... extradition. See also: extradition
Good Samaritan rule :: n. from a Biblical story, if a volunteer comes to ... a lawsuit for millions of dollars.
grace period :: n. a time stated in a contract in which a late pay ... the contract, i.e. your insurance.
grand larceny :: n. the crime of theft of another's property (inclu ... f the loot. See also: larceny theft
grandfather clause :: n. 1) a clause in a statute or zoning ordinance (p ... Such laws are now unconstitutional.
guest :: n. 1) in general, a person paying to stay in a hot ... ce. See also: guest statute invitee
guest statute :: n. a state law which sets standards of care by the ... sked to be let out. See also: guest
hearsay rule :: n. the basic rule that testimony or documents whic ... interest dying declaration hearsay
hit and run :: n. the crime of a driver of a vehicle who is invol ... , and then walks back to the scene.
impute :: v. 1) to attach to a person responsibility (and th ... also. See also: vicarious liability
in personam :: adj. (in purr-soh-nam) from Latin for "directed to ... here. See also: in rem jurisdiction
incest :: n. sexual intercourse between close blood relative ... ily genes carrying such weaknesses.
incompetent :: adj. 1) referring to a person who is not able to m ... n incompetency incompetent evidence
incorporate :: v. 1) to obtain an official charter or articles of ... te by reference incorporation stock
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
inter vivos :: (in-tur veye-vohs) adj. Latin for "among the livin ... e will. See also: inter vivos trust
interest :: n. 1) any and all, partial or total right to prope ... nal property real property standing
interrogatories :: n. a set of written questions to a party to a laws ... ing. See also: deposition discovery
intoxication :: n. 1) the condition of being drunk as the result o ... r. See also: vehicular manslaughter
invasion of privacy :: n. the intrusion into the personal life of another ... randeis. See also: right to privacy
jeopardy :: n. peril, particularly danger of being charged wit ... ar Evers. See also: double jeopardy
joint and several :: adj. referring to a debt or a judgment for neglige ... ution contributory negligence joint
judge :: 1) n. an official with the authority and responsib ... ice justice of the peace magistrate
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 :: n. one of the remarkable innovations of the Englis ... hallenge sequester venire voir dire
jury fees :: n. the rather minimal amount paid each day to juro ... ees as a court cost. See also: jury
justice :: n. 1) fairness. 2) moral rightness. 3) a scheme or ... e appellate courts. See also: court
juvenile delinquent :: n. a person who is under age (usually below 18), w ... low as 14. See also: juvenile court
kidnapping :: (also spelled kidnaping) n. the taking of a person ... but now applies to adults as well.
laches :: n. the legal doctrine that a legal right or claim ... , breach of contract, fraud, etc.).
law :: n. 1) any system of regulations to govern the cond ... um maritime law natural law statute
law book :: n. any of numerous volumes dealing with law, inclu ... : common law law Shepardize statute
lawsuit :: n. a common term for a legal action by one person ... See also: case cause of action suit
liability :: n. one of the most significant words in the field ... bility joint tortfeasors negligence
libel :: 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), wr ... libel per se public figure slander
liberty :: n. freedom from restraint and the power to follow ... the benefit of the general public.
life estate :: n. the right to use or occupy real property for on ... hter, Sadie, will own the property.
limited partnership :: n. a special type of partnership which is very com ... mited liability partner partnership
lineup :: n. a law enforcement method used in an attempt to ... entification is precarious at best.
living will :: n. also called "a durable power of attorney," it i ... upport. See also: power of attorney
long-arm statute :: n. law which gives a local state court jurisdictio ... rt jurisdiction over the defendant.
Magna Carta :: n. Latin for "Great Charter," it was a document de ... s. It is also spelled Magna Charta.
mandamus :: (man-dame-us) n. Latin for "we order," a writ (mor ... mandamus. See also: writ of mandate
marriage :: n. the joining of a male and female in matrimony b ... of time without legal formalities.
martial law :: n. a system of complete control by a country's mil ... n and women. See also: military law
merger :: n. 1) in corporate law, the joining together of tw ... and taking one, and wife the other.
Miranda warning :: n. the requirement, also called the Miranda rule, ... me such a suspect? See also: rights
M'Naughten rule :: n. a traditional "right and wrong" test of legal i ... temporary insanity Twinkie defense
mortgage :: n. a document in which the owner pledges his/her/i ... losure notice of default trust deed
municipal court :: n. a lower court which usually tries criminal misd ... nd/or small claims. See also: court
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
no fault insurance :: n: a type of automobile insurance required of car ... ling lawsuits. See also: negligence
nominee :: n. 1) a person or entity who is requested or named ... ic office. See also: agent executor
non-profit corporation :: n. an organization incorporated under state laws a ... harity corporation cy pres doctrine
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
notary public :: n. a person authorized by the state in which the p ... he state which appoints the notary.
notice :: n. 1) information, usually in writing in all legal ... Thirty-day notice three-day notice
notice to quit :: n. the notice given by a landlord (owner) to a ten ... h-to-month notice unlawful detainer
occupy the field :: v. to preempt (monopolize) an area of statutory la ... ertain topics. See also: preemption
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
party :: n. 1) one of the participants in a lawsuit or othe ... y real party in interest respondent
plea bargain :: n. in criminal procedure, a negotiation between th ... the ban. See also: cop a plea plea
possession :: n. 1) any article, object, asset or property which ... ctive possession. See also: possess
preemption :: n. the rule of law that if the federal government ... cs control may parallel each other.
presumption :: n. a rule of law which permits a court to assume a ... resumption at all, but a certainty.
principal :: n. 1) main person in a business. 2) employer, the ... ry agency agent respondeat superior
privilege against self incrimina-tion :: n. a right to refuse to testify against oneself in ... so: Bill of Rights taking the Fifth
privileges and immunities :: n. the fundamental rights that people enjoy in fre ... t impinge on constitutional rights.
procedure :: n. the methods and mechanics of the legal process. ... cases are tried and judgments made.
process :: n. in law, the legal means by which a person is re ... service of process subpena summons
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
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
prosecute :: v. 1) in criminal law, to charge a person with a c ... rney General prosecution prosecutor
prostitution :: n. the profession of performing sexual acts for mo ... so: pander panderer pimp prostitute
real property :: n. 1) all land, structures, firmly attached and in ... onal property real estate reversion
reasonable care :: n. the degree of caution and concern for the safet ... . See also: duty of care negligence
reckless :: adj. in both negligence and criminal cases, carele ... so: careless negligent wet reckless
regulations :: n. rules and administrative codes issued by govern ... es usually have similar procedures.
release on one's own recognizance :: v. for a judge to allow a criminal defendant pre-t ... ourtroom slang. See also: bail O.R.
remedy :: n. the means to achieve justice in any matter in w ... gment provisional remedy settlement
renunciation :: n. 1) giving up a right, such as a right of inheri ... renunciation is factually too late.
reputation :: n. a person's good name, honor or what the communi ... See also: defamation libel slander
retroactive :: adj. referring to a court's decision or a statute ... ospective." See also: ex post facto
right :: 1) n. an entitlement to something, whether to conc ... e also: civil rights marital rights
right to privacy :: n. the possible right to be let alone, in absence ... e also: invasion of privacy privacy
rights :: n. 1) plural of right, which is the collection of ... evidence. See also: Miranda warning
search and seizure :: n. examination of a person's premises (residence, ... robable cause search search warrant
search warrant :: n. a written order by a judge which permits a law ... ble cause search search and seizure
sentence :: 1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted o ... ence restitution suspended sentence
separate property :: n. in community property states (California, Texas ... pouse. See also: community property
service of process :: n. the delivery of copies of legal documents such ... by publication substituted service
sheriff :: n. the top law enforcement officer for a county, u ... ." See also: bailiff sheriff's sale
shield laws :: n. statutes enacted in some states which declare t ... See also: privileged communication
sound mind and memory :: n. having an understanding of one's actions and re ... ee also: competent incompetent will
speedy trial :: n. in criminal prosecutions, the right of a defend ... hurt by the waiver. See also: trial
standard of care :: n. the watchfulness, attention, caution and pruden ... of care foreseeable risk negligence
state action :: n. in federal Civil Rights Acts, dating back to 18 ... for damages. See also: civil rights
state of domicile :: n. the state in which a person has his/her permane ... orated. See also: domicile resident
statute :: n. a federal or state written law enacted by the C ... and proclamations are not statutes.
statute of limitations :: n. a law which sets the maximum period which one c ... ies. See also: demurrer laches toll
subrogation :: n. assuming the legal rights of a person for whom ... also: negligence subrogee subrogor
substantive law :: n. law which establishes principles and creates an ... are conducted. See also: procedure
substituted service :: n. accomplishing service (delivery) of legal docum ... ee also: service service of process
supra :: (sooh-prah) Latin for "above," in legal briefs and ... d as Guinn v. United States, supra.
supremacy clause :: n. Article VI, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, ... f involving a constitutional issue.
temporary insanity :: n. in a criminal prosecution, a defense by the acc ... diminished capacity insanity intent
tenancy by the entirety :: n. joint ownership of title by husband and wife, i ... ee also: community property tenancy
tenancy in common :: n. title to property (usually real property, but i ... on. See also: joint tenancy tenancy
theft :: n. the generic term for all crimes in which a pers ... rglary embezzlement larceny robbery
toll :: v. 1) to delay, suspend or hold off the effect of ... bridge or take passage on a ferry.
tort :: n. from French for "wrong," a civil wrong or wrong ... nce slander trespass wrongful death
transferred intent :: n. in both criminal and tort (civil wrong) law, wh ... hit upon Truehart. See also: intent
trial :: n. the examination of facts and law presided over ... at a hearing held at a later time.
unlawful detainer :: n. 1) keeping possession of real property without ... Thirty-day notice three-day notice
variance :: n. 1) an exception to a zoning ordinance, authoriz ... process." See also: dismissal proof
vehicular manslaughter :: n. the crime of causing the death of a human being ... gence manslaughter reckless driving
venue :: n. 1) the proper or most convenient location for t ... ion. See also: forum non conveniens
vicarious liability :: n. sometimes called "imputed liability," attachmen ... r or policeman. See also: liability
void for vagueness :: adj. referring to a statute defining a crime which ... o the states by the 14th Amendment.
warrant :: 1) n. an order (writ) of a court which directs a l ... e search and seizure search warrant
will :: n. a written document which leaves the estate of t ... will and testament probate testator
withdrawal :: n. 1) in criminal law, leaving a conspiracy to com ... count. See also: check renunciation

Popular Law Searches

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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.
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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.