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Terms and Definitions

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
There are 40 names in this directory beginning with the letter B.
Bad Debt
A debt that is not collectible and is therefore worthless to the creditor; a debt that becomes uncollectible because the debtor is insolvent.
Bad Faith
Breach of faith; a willful failure to respond to plain, well-understood statutory or contractual obligations; dishonesty in fact in the conduct or transaction concerned.
Bail
A monetary or other security given to secure the release of a defendant until time of trial and to assure the defendant's appearance at every stage of the proceedings.
Bail Bond
The document executed in order to secure the release of an individual in legal custody. The person who puts up bail generally forfeits security given in the event the defendant jumps bail - that is, fails to appear as required for court dates.
Bailiff
A court attendant or officer who has charge of a court session. The bailiff keeps order, custody of the jury and custody of the prisoners while in court.
Bankruptcy
Popularly defined as insolvency, the inability of a debtor to pay debts as they become due. Technically, however, it is the legal process under the Federal Bankruptcy Act by which assets of the debtor are liquidated as quickly as possible to pay off creditors and to discharge the bankrupt, or free him of his debts, so that he may start anew.
Bankruptcy Court
A U.S. District court created specifically to carry out the Federal Bankruptcy Act.
Bar
The complete body of attorneys, so called because that are the persons privileged to enter beyond the bar that separates the general courtroom audience from the judge's bench. The case at bar refers to the particular action before the court. In procedure, bar refers to the barrier to the relitigating of an issue. A bar operates to deny a party the right or privilege of rechallenging issues in subsequent litigation. The prevailing party in a lawsuit can use the favorable decision to bar retrial of the action.
Barrister
In England, a legal practitioner whose function is similar to that of an American trial lawyer, although the barrister does not prepare the case from the start. This is done by a solicitor who assembles the materials necessary for presentation to the court and settles cases out of court.
Battery
The unlawful touching of or use of force on another person willfully or in anger. Battery may be considered either a tort, giving rise to civil liability for damages to the victim, or a crime.
Bench
The court; the judges composing the court collectively; the place where the trial judge sits.
Bench Warrant
A court order for the arrest of a person; commonly issues to compel a person's attendance before the court to answer a charge of contempt or if a witness or a defendant fails to attend after a subpoena has been duly served.
Beneficiary
A person for whose benefit property is held in trust. A person to whom another is in a fiduciary relation, whether the relation is one of agency, trust, guardianship, partnership or otherwise; a person named to receive the proceeds or benefits of an insurance policy; a person named in a will to receive certain property.
Bequeath
To give or leave through a will a gift of personal property, as distinguishing from a gift of real property. The term disposition encompasses both a bequest of personality and a devise of realty.
Bequest
A gift of personal property by will. A devise ordinarily passes real estate, and a bequest passes personal property.
Bestiality
Sexual intercourse with an animal. Bestiality constitutes a crime against nature.
Bigamy
The criminal offense of having two or more wives or husbands at the same time. A bigamous marriage is void.
Bill Of Lading
In commercial law, the receipt a carrier gives to a shipper for goods given to the carrier for transportation. The bill evidences the contract between the shipper and the carrier, and can also serve as a document of title creating in the person possessing the bill ownership of the goods shipped.
Bill Of Particulars
A detailed statement provided in a criminal case, as an amplification of the pleading to which it relates, in order to advise the court, and, more particularly, the defendant, of the specific facts or allegations to which he or she will be required to respond.
Bill Of Rights
The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, that part of any constitution that sets forth the fundamental rights of citizenship. It is a declaration of rights that are substantially immune from government interference.
Binder
A written memorandum of the important items of a preliminary contract; an insurer's acknowledgment of its contract to protect the insured against accidents of a specified kind until a formal policy can be issued or until the insurer gives notice of its election to terminate.
Binding Over
To hold a person for a trial on bond (bail) or in jail. If the judicial official conducting a preliminary hearing finds probable cause to believe a crime was committed and that the accused committed the crime, the official will "bind over" the accused, normally by setting bail for his or her appearance at trial. This applies to felonies only.
Blackmail
The demanding of money either for performing an existing duty, or for preventing an injury, or exercising an influence; the extortion of things of value form a person by threats of a personal injury, or by threatening to accuse the person of a crime or an immoral conduct, which if true, would tend to disgrace the person.
Blanket Position Bond
A bond taken by a employer and insures each employee for a specific amount. For example, a bank may take out a Blanket Position Bond for each of its employees to a maximum amount of $10,000. If any employees embezzle funds the bank is covered up to a maximum of $10,000.
Blue Laws
Strict statutes or local ordinances most frequently enacted to preserve observance of the Sabbath by prohibiting commercial activity on Sundays. With increasing frequency, blue laws are being abolished so that people may freely choose activities without regard to societal notions as to appropriate Sunday conduct.
Blue Sky Laws
State laws regulating the sale of corporate securities through investment companies, enacted to prevent the sale of securities of fraudulent enterprises.
Boilerplate
Any standardized or preprinted form for agreements. Also, standardized language, as on a printed form containing the terms of a lease or sales contract, often phrased to the advantage of the party furnishing the form, with the expectation that the contract will be signed without being carefully examined.
Bona
Latin term meaning "in good faith." Without fraud or deceit; genuine.
Bond
Evidence of a long-term debt that is legally guaranteed as to the principal and interest specified on the face of the bond certificate. The rights of holder are specified in the bond indenture, which contains the legal terms and conditions under which the bond was issued. Bond debt is secured or guaranteed primarily by the ability of the issuer (borrower) to pay the interest when due and to repay the principal at maturity.
Brain Death
The irreversible cessation of brain function; statutory or case law definitions of death are being expanded n many jurisdictions to include this. Among the factors considered are the failure to respond to external stimuli, the absence of breathing or spontaneous movement, the absence of reflex movement, and a flat electroencephalograph reading following a 24-hour observation period.
Breach
Failure to perform some contracted-for or agreed-upon act, or to comply with a legal duty owed to another or to society.
Breach Of Contract
A wrongful nonperformance of any contractual duty of immediate performance; failing to perform acts promised, by hindering or preventing such performance or by repudiating the duty to perform.
Breach Of Peace
Conduct that destroys or menaces public order and tranquility, including violet acts or acts and words likely to produce violence in others. In its broadest sense the term refers to any criminal offense.
Breaking And Entering
Two of the elements necessary to constitute a burglary, consisting of the use of physical force, however slight, to remove an obstruction to an entrance. For example, pushing open a door that is ajar, followed by unauthorized entry into a building, is sufficient to constitute the breaking and entering elements of burglary.
Bribery
The voluntary giving of something of value to influence the performance of an official duty.
Brief
A written argument concentrating upon legal points and authorities (i.e., precedents) used by the lawyer to convey to the court (trial or appellate) the essential facts of his or her client's case. This includes a statement of the questions of law involved, the law that should be applied, and the application the lawyer desires made of the law by the court.
Broker
One who for a commission or fee brings parties together and assists in negotiating contracts between them; a person whose business it is to bring the buyer and seller together.
Burden Of Proof
The duty of a party to substantiate an allegation or issue, either to avoid dismissal of that issue early in the trial or to convince the court of the truth of that claim and hence to prevail in a civil or criminal suit. 2. The duty of a plaintiff, at the beginning of a trial, to make a prima facie showing of each fact necessary to establish the existence of a cause of action; referred to as the duty of producing evidence (also burden of evidence or production burden). 3. The obligation to plead each element of a cause of action or suffer a dismissal; referred to as the pleading burden.
Burglary
In common law, an actual breaking into a dwelling, with intent to commit a felony. Some statutes have expanded burglary to include any unlawful entry into or remaining in a building or vehicle with intent to commit a crime.
Bylaws
Rules adopted for the regulation of an association's or corporation's own actions. In corporation law, bylaws are self-imposed rules that constitute an agreement or contract between a corporation and its members to conduct the corporate business in a particular way. In the absence of law to the contrary, under common law the power to make bylaws resides in the members or shareholders of the corporation. When used by corporations, the term bylaws deals with matters of corporate structure and machinery as distinguished from regulations which are imposed by a board of directors to deal with problems relating to the day-to-day management.