Legal Terms ( M )

Magna Carta: A document signed by King John on June 15, 1215, which established the rights of English barons, landowners and common people, and limited the powers of the King. Magna Carta is a Latin term, which means the great charter.

Maintenance: The support provided by one person to another with a means of livelihood, especially in cases where the former is legally bound to do so. In family law, this term (also known as alimony or spousal support) is used to denote the financial assistance given by one spouse to another, in case of separation or divorce. Likewise, a father is legally bound to maintain the children, a son/daughter is bound to support the parents, who have no means to live, provided, the former has the ability to maintain the latter.

Mala Fides: An action done in bad faith. A person who buys stolen goods with the knowledge that they are stolen is said to be a mala fide buyer. It is opposed to a bona fide purchaser, who buys the goods without knowing that they are stolen.

Malfeasance: Doing an act, which is illegal and wrongful. If a person omits to do something which he ought to do, then it is non-feasance, whereas doing a lawful act in an unlawful and improper way, so as to cause harm to another is misfeasance. Misfeasance happens due to carelessness or negligence, but malfeasance is done with the intention to cause harm.

Malice: A legal term, which refers to a person’s intention to commit a wrongful act, which will result in injury or harm to another.

Mandamus: The name of a writ in Latin, which means ‘we command’. This writ is issued to order a governmental agency, individual or administrative tribunal to perform an action, required by law, in case of failure to do that act, or to correct a prior illegal action, or if the official has earlier refused to do that act.

Marriage: A contract made under law, between a man and a woman to become a husband and wife. This legal relationship creates rights and obligations as per the relevant laws of that state.

Material Witness: A witness, whose testimony is considered to be vital for the outcome of the case, as he is presumed to have knowledge about the subject matter of the case.

Medical Malpractice: A professional negligence on the part of a health care provider by an act or omission, in which he/she deviates from the accepted standards of practice of the medical profession and thereby causes harm, injury or death of a patient is termed as medical malpractice.

Mens Rea: This Latin term, which literally means ‘guilty mind’, refers to the intent required to commit a crime. Mens Rea is one of the two factors that are necessary to constitute a crime. The other factor is actus reus, which denotes the guilty act.

Mesne Profits: The profits made from a land, by an illegal tenant, who is in wrongful possession of the land, which belongs to another. This amount is calculated when a claim is made by the true owner of the property to recover the profits made by the illegal tenant.

Miranda Rights: The rights of a person, who is taken into police custody. It is mandatory for the law enforcement officers to inform the suspects in custody about the Miranda rights. Such action from the side of the police is called Miranda warnings, which informs the detained person about the Miranda rights: right to remain silent and right to an attorney.

Misappropriation: Illegal use of another’s property or funds intentionally. In law, misappropriation is mainly used to denote such action by a public official, trustee, executor or any agent, who is entrusted with the responsibility to take care and protect another’s assets.

Modus Operandi: This Latin term means the method of committing a crime. It is also referred to as M.O., which can be used to identify the person who has committed a crime, in case of repeated criminal acts, which have a particular pattern of performance.

Moratorium: In simple terms, moratorium means any temporary suspension of an activity. It can be a suspension of legal action against a person or a group of persons. It can be a voluntary suspension of the collection of debts by banks or by the government or under court order.

Mortgage: Pledging a real property as a security for the repayment of the debt involving that property is called a mortgage. The person who receives the mortgage and lends money is called a mortgagee, and the person who concede a mortgage is called a mortgagor. 

Motion: A proposal or application to the court by a litigant or his counsel, seeking some order or ruling. Motions can be made orally or written, either on notice or ex-parte. The applicant is known as the movant or the moving party.

Motive: A very important factor as far as criminal law is concerned, motive is the reason for a person to commit a crime. It is the inner drive, which induces the person to act in such a way, so as to commit a crime. It is not necessary that there will be a motive behind every crime, but proving the motive makes it easier to understand the case.

Murder: One of the most serious crimes, murder can be defined as the intentional and unlawful killing of one person by another, without any legal justification or provocation.


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