Legal Terms ( D )

Damages: Damages are the pecuniary compensation given by the process of law, to a person for the actionable wrong that another has done him.

Dangerous Offender: A person who has committed a serious personal injury offense, and the law believes that it is highly probable that he can commit the crime again, and is considered high risk for the community. Such prisoners are sentenced to federal prisons for an indefinite period of time.

Date Rape: Forcible sexual intercourse, while on a voluntary social outing where the women resisted the sexual advances of the man.

Deceit: It is a false and fraudulent representation as to a matter of fact, made in order to induce a person to act thereon.

Decision: An act of deciding a dispute. Or a conclusion, determination; giving a judgment or order.

Decree: A judgment that resolves the rights of the parties with regard to all or any of the issues in a particular suit. Such judgment issued by a judge has the force of law, but could be either preliminary or final.

Death: Death is defined as the cessation of beating of the heart and the act of breathing. The tax which is payable or levied on transmission of property on the death of the owner thereof is called death duties.

Death Penalty: Death Penalty is usually awarded by courts for heinous crimes such as murder, rape, and in serious crimes against the state. The methods of meting out death penalty are several like hanging, the electric chair, and also the lethal injection.

Debenture: Various forms of instruments are called debentures. A debenture is a document which either creates or acknowledges a debt. The term debenture is usually associated with a company of some kind, and are securities given by a company, but they are often granted by clubs and occasionally by individuals.

Debt: A sum of money due from one person to another. Debt means any pecuniary liability, whether payable presently or in the future, or under a decree of the civil court or revenue court. A person who owes a sum of money to another person is called a debtor.

Decapitation: Decapitation is where a part of human body above the neck is severed from the trunk. Such kind of a punishment is mainly in the middle east countries.

Decedent: A person, who is no longer alive.

Deed: A deed is a instrument in written form, executed in the manner specified by some person or corporation named in the instrument, wherein it expresses that the person or corporation so named makes, concurs, confirms or consents to some assurance of some interest in property, or of some legal or equitable title, right or claim or undertakes some obligation, duty or agreement enforceable at law, or in equity, or does or concurs in some other act affecting the legal relationship or position of a party to the instruments, or of some other person or corporation.

Deem: The word ‘deemed’ is used a great deal in modern legislation. Sometimes, it is used to impose for the purposes of a statute an artificial construction of a word or phrase that would not otherwise prevail. Or sometimes, it is used to give a comprehensive description that includes what is obvious, what is uncertain and what is in the ordinary sense impossible.

De Facto: In simple terms, it means ‘in fact’. Even when it is not a legal or formal authority or right, some rights are recognized as de facto rights. For example: A de facto guardian is not a legal guardian, i.e. he is not a natural guardian nor is he appointed by law. If a person, even though he is a stranger, who is interested in the child and takes charge of the minor and his property, he is called a de facto guardian.

Defamation: A false statement either spoken or written, or is published or intended to be read by others, which can cause harm to a person’s reputation is called defamation. If a statement is published it is libel and if the statement is spoken, it is slander.

Defamatory Libel: When a false statement is made (either written or printed), which harms the reputation or status of a person, and is without legal justification.

Defeasance: Rendering something null and void. The termination or annulment of interest in accordance with the stipulated conditions (as in if a deed completely or partially negates something on the happening of some condition.)

Defendant: A person against whom a lawsuit is filed is called a defendant.

Defense: A term used to describe the act of an attorney representing a defendant, to show why the plaintiff or the prosecutor does not have a valid case. Defense Attorney or Defense Counsel is a person who represents a defendant in a civil or criminal case. 

Delegatus Non Potest Delegare: This Latin maxim means that a person to whom, an office or duty is delegated, cannot lawfully delegate the duty to another, unless he is expressly authorized to do so.

Delict: Delicts are small offenses, where a person by fraud or deceit causes damage or tort to someone. Delicts can be public or private. Public delicts are those offenses which affect the entire community, and private delicts are directly injurious to a particular individual.

Delinquent: This is a person who has disobeyed the law, or is guilty of some crime or failure of duty. It also refers to failure of a payment that is due.

Demand Letter: It is a document served by one party to another, stating their version of the facts, and making a legal claim for compensation to resolve the dispute.

De Minimis Non Curat Lex: This Latin maxim literally means that the law does not concern itself with trifles. This common law principle basically means that even if technically there is a violation of law, the judges will not sit in a case of minor transgressions of law or where the effect is very minor.

Democracy: It is a form of government wherein the supreme power is with the people, wherein the executive or administrative head are chosen by the people through periodical elections.

Demurrage: It is the agreed damages to be paid for delay of the ship in loading or unloading beyond an agreed period.

De Novo: This Latin term means ‘new’. It is usually used in case of a new or fresh trial. (as if previous partial or complete decision had not been made)

Deportation: Deportation implies a legal procedure of permanent exclusion of person from a country to another. In the United States, If you have been deported, you are not allowed to enter the US again for at least 5 years. The main reasons for deportation is usually when a person overstays with an expired visa or commits some serious crime.

Deponent: A deponent is a person who gives his testimony in a court of justice or one who makes an affidavit. Deposition is an act of giving public testimony, especially the evidence put down in writing by way of answers to questions by a witness.

Descendant: A person who is in direct line to an ancestor, such as a child, grandchild and great grandchild. Descendants include natural born children and legally adopted descendants.

Detention: The act of retaining a person or property in temporary custody while awaiting trial.

Deterrence: Any law or legislation enacted has to be coupled with a penalty or punishment for non conformity thereto, which will act as a deterrent for breach thereof.

Detinue: It is a form of action which lies in conversion for loss or destruction of goods, which a bailee (not the owner) has allowed to happen in breach of his duty.

Devastavit: When a personal representative in accepting the office accepts the duties of the office, and becomes a trustee in the sense that he is personally liable for all the breaches of the ordinary trust, which in courts of equity are considered to arise from his office. The violation of his duties of administration and mismanagement of the estate, which results in an avoidable loss is termed as devastavit.

Dicta or Dictum: A statement of law made by a judge in the course of a decision of the case, but not necessary to the decision of the case itself, is called dictum, and often as obiter dictum. These are not binding on the parties and often go beyond the occasion, and lay down a decision which is unnecessary for the purpose at hand.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act: This is a federal act which addresses a number of copyright issues created by the Internet that protect Internet Service Providers.

Diplomatic Immunity: Where a representative of a country is stationed in another country, he is offered immunity for any offense he may commit in the country where he is stationed and is immune from the jurisdiction thereof.

Dismissal: A dismissal in a court setting has a definite connotation implying a final disposal by the tribunal rejecting the case of the suitor. A defendant may also be dismissed from a lawsuit, i.e. the suit is dropped from against that party.

Dispose: The act of ending a legal case or termination of a judicial proceeding.

Dissolution of Marriage: A dissolution of marriage is a legal termination of the marriage bond.

Directed Verdict: A directed verdict is a verdict in the defendant’s favor, after the plaintiff presents his case, but without listening to the defendant’s evidence. It is generally given by a judge, if he feels that the plaintiff has failed to offer the minimum amount of evidence necessary to prove his case.

Direct Evidence: Evidence presented in a case must always be direct evidence, which means that it cannot be hearsay or circumstantial evidence, but has to be clear evidence of a fact or happening.

Direct Tax: A tax which is levied on a taxpayer who is intended to suffer the final burden of paying tax.

Disability Insurance: A disability is a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. An insurance policy that pays benefits in such a case is called disability insurance.

Discharge: A discharge is to perform one’s legal duty and complete the obligation. In a criminal context, if an offender is discharged, the wrongdoer has no criminal record. In an absolute discharge, a conviction is not entered against the accused, and in a conditional discharge, a conviction is not entered against the accused if certain conditions are met.

Discrimination: Discrimination indicates an unjust, unfair or unreasonable bias in favor of one and against another on the basis of a protected characteristic, such as race, gender, caste or disability.

Dishonor: To refuse or neglect to accept or pay when duly presented for payment of a bill of exchange or promissory note or draft.

Distress: It is a seizure of a personal possession, without legal process, of a wrongdoer, into the hands of an aggrieved party, in order to obtain payment for money owed or performance of a duty.

Divorce: Divorce is a termination of a marriage otherwise than by death or annulment. It is derived from the Latin word ‘divortium’, which means to separate from.

Doctrine: A legal doctrine is a rule or principle of law, framework, set of rules, when established by a precedent through which judgments can be determined in a given legal case.

Domicile: A state in which a person has permanent residence, and intends to keep living there even if he leaves that place for a while, or a state where the business headquarters are located.

Domestic Violence: Use of physical force by someone in the household to hurt or dominate on the other. Domestic violence can include physical violence, sexual assault and emotional abuse.

Double Jeopardy: Double jeopardy is based on the principle that no person can be punished more than once for the same offense.

Double Taxation: Double taxation is taxation of the same property for the same purpose twice in a year, or taxation of corporate dividends twice.

Drunk Driving: When a person operates a vehicle while he is under the influence of alcohol, he commits the crime of drunk driving. State laws have specified the level of alcohol present in the blood which can be termed as drunk driving.

Due Process: A principle wherein it is a fundamental right to have a legal process, like a hearing conducted for each individual so that no unjust or unequal treatment is given to any person.

Duress: Any intimidation or restraint on action or anything tending to restrain free and voluntary action. Generally speaking, duress may be said to exist whenever one, by the unlawful act of another, is induced to make a contract or to perform some other act under circumstances which deprive him of the exercise of free will.

Dying Declaration: A dying declaration is the evidence provided by a person who is on his death bed, and are given the same weightage as regular evidence. The reason behind this is that a person who is dying and knows it, generally will not tell a lie.

Dynasty Trust: A trust wherein it is designed in a way to pass down for many generations in order to avoid tax.


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