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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 31 names in this directory beginning with the letter S.
Sanction
To approve, to reward or punish; a consequence of punishment for violation of accepted norms of social conduct, which may be of two kinds: those that redress civil injuries (civil sanctions) and those that punish crimes (penal sanctions).
Scheduled Fidelity Bond
A bond taken by a employer. It covers named employees who perform tasks related to specific positions which are described in the bonds themselves. For example, the manager is responsible for checking daily cash receipts and making daily deposits. To insure against theft by that employee, the employer may take out a Scheduled Fidelity Bond for $2000.
Search Warrant
An order issued by a judge or magistrate authorizing certain law enforcement officers to conduct a search of specified premises for specific things or persons. In those cases where warrants are required, only a judge or magistrate who has not previously considered the facts giving rise to the application can issue a search warrant, and only upon showing of probable cause that the described item is located in the designated place and that it was involved in the planning or commission of a crime.
Sedition
Illegal action that tends to cause the disruption and overthrow of the government.
Self-Defense
The self-protection of one's person, or preservation of member's of one's family and, to a lesser extent, one's property, from harm by an aggressor, in a way and under circumstances that the law recognizes as justifying the protective measures. It is a valid defense to a criminal charge or to tort liability.
Self-Incrimination, Privilege Against
The constitutional right of a person to refuse to answer questions or otherwise give testimony against himself that will create substantial likelihood of criminal incrimination. The privilege can be displaced by a grant of use immunity, which guarantees that neither the compelled testimony nor any fruits will be used against the witness. Given such immunity, the witness is no longer exposed to the hazard of self-incrimination and thus must respond to questions or provide evidence. It should be empathized that the privilege against self-incrimination, like all constitutional rights, may be waived. Miranda warnings are generally necessary before such a waiver will be found to qualify a confession as admissible evidence in a criminal trial.
Sentence
1. The punishment, such as time in jail, given to a person convicted of a crime. The process is called sentencing and is usually done by the trial judge, but sometimes by a jury or a sentencing council of judges. 2. A determinate, fixed, straight, or flat sentence is an exact penalty set by law. A mandatory sentence is a determinate sentence that cannot be suspended and that does not allow the judge to order probation. An indeterminate sentence is one having a minimum and maximum, with the decision of how long the criminal will serve depending on the criminal's behavior in prison and other things.
Sequester
To separate from; hold aside, as in to sequester assets or to sequester witnesses during a trial.
Sequestration
1. In equity, the act of seizing property belonging to another and holding it until profits have paid the demand for which the property was taken. 2. In law, the practice of keeping jury members together and guarded from improper contact with people who are not members of the jury throughout trial and jury deliberations. Juries are sequestered at the discretion of the trial judge when he or she feels sequestration would serve the interests of justice. Sequestration of witnesses is frequently ordered by the court at the request of one of the parties to insure that in court testimony of each witness will not be colored by what another witness said.
Settlement
The conclusive resolving of a matter; especially, a compromise achieved by adverse parties in a civil suit before final judgment, whereby they agree between themselves, thus eliminating the necessity of judicial resolution of the controversy.
Sheriff's Sale (Judicial Sale)
A sale of property by the sheriff under authority of a court's judgment, mortgage, lien or other debt of the owner.
Shield Laws
In case of news persons, laws designed to protect a journalist's confidential sources of information and to protect other information, notes and materials from disclosure. In case of rape victims, laws that limit the questions a defendant may ask about the lifestyle of the victim unless those questions can be shown to be essential for their trial.
Sine Qua Non
Latin term meaning "without which not." That without which the thing cannot be; an absolutely essential and necessary thing. The following example shows how the term is used in law cases: Tom purchases a new refrigerator. He puts the old one on the street to be carted away but does not remove the door or lock it shut. A child is severely injured when he is trapped inside the refrigerator. The sine qua non is Tom's failure to do something about the door, which made the refrigerator an attractive nuisance.
Slander
Spoken words that tend to damage another's reputation. Compare Libel.
Sodomy
Crime against nature, including bestiality and, in many jurisdictions, other acts of unnatural sexual intercourse as defined and proscribed by statute. Sodomy was a common law felony in the United States.
Stare Decisis
Latin term meaning "to stand by that which was decided." Rule by which common law courts are reluctant to interfere with principles announced in former decisions and therefore rely upon judicial precedent as a compelling guide to decision of cases raising issues similar to those in previous cases. For example: A state supreme court rules that a person's privacy interests demand court protection of telephone toll records from police investigations. Several years later, the issue is brought back to the court. The prosecutor claims that the other states allow the records to be used without interference in privacy and that other privacy protections can be employed if necessary. Even if some new members of the court agree with the prosecutor, most likely will apply stare decisis and abide by the previous decision.
Statute
An act of the legislature, adopted under its constitutional authority, by prescribed means and certain form, so that it becomes the law governing conduct within its scope. Statutes are enacted to prescribe conduct, define crimes, create inferior government bodies, appropriate public monies, and in general to promote the public welfare.
Statute Of Frauds
The statutory requirement that certain contracts be in writing to be enforceable.
Statute Of Limitations
Any law that fixes the time within which parties must take judicial action to enforce rights or else be thereafter barred from enforcing them. The enactment of such laws derives from the belief that there is a point beyond which a prospective defendant should no longer worry about future possibility of an action against him, that the law disfavors "stale evidence," and that no one should be able to "sit on his rights" for an unreasonable time without forfeiting claims.
Statutory Rape
The crime of having sexual intercourse with a person under an age set by statute, regardless of whether or not they consent to the act.
Stay
A halt in a judicial proceeding where, by its order, the court will not take further action until the occurrence of some event.
Stay Of Execution
A process whereby a judgment is precluded from being executed for a specific period.
Stipulation
An agreement or concession made by parties in a judicial proceeding or by their attorneys, relating to a matter before the court.
Subpoena
Latin term meaning "under penalty." A legal order issued under the authority of a court to compel the appearance of a witness at a judicial proceeding; disobedience may be punishable as contempt of court.
Suit
Any proceeding in a court of justice by which an individual pursues a remedy that the law affords.
Summons
An order requiring the appearance of the defendant under penalty of having a judgment entered against him for failure to appear. The object of the summons is to notify the defendant that he has been sued.
Superior Court
1. The name used to describe a county trial court. 2. A court of general jurisdiction intermediate between the inferior courts (as a magistrate's court, justice of the peace court, or a district court) and the higher appellate courts. 3. A court with juries having original jurisdiction.
Suppression Of Evidence
A decision made by a judge not to allow certain evidence into a criminal trial because the evidence was obtained by illegal or improper means.
Supremacy Clause
The popular title for Article V, Section 2 of the U S Constitution, which is the main foundation of the federal government's power over the states, providing that the acts of the federal government are operative as supreme law throughout the union.
Supreme Court
The highest appellate court in most jurisdictions and in the Federal court system. It is usually the appellate state court of last resort, and in the absence of a federal question, its decisions cannot be reviewed by other courts and must be respected. In some states this court is an inferior court and not the court of last resort. In the Federal court system, the U.S. Supreme Court is expressly provided for in the Constitution, which vests judicial power in "one Supreme Court" and such inferior courts as Congress shall establish. It consists of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
Surrogate
A judicial officer of limited jurisdiction, who has jurisdiction over the probate of wills, the settlement of estates and in some cases adoptions.