Legal Terms ( O )

Obiter Dictum: An opinion, remark or comment made by a judge which does not form an important part of the court’s decision. The term ‘obiter dictum’ is derived from a Latin word meaning ‘things said by the way’. It is basically a side opinion which is not an integral part of the judgment.

Obligation: A legal requirement to do what is imposed by law, contract, or as a result of unlawful harm caused to the person or property of another. In a more technical meaning, it is a duty to do something agreeably to the laws and customs of the country in which the obligation is made.

Occupational Crime: A crime committed by a person during the course of legal employment like misuse of an employer’s property, theft of employer’s property, or misuse of sensitive information for personal gains.

Of Counsel: It is a reference to an attorney, who assists in the preparation or management of the case, or its presentation on appeal, but is not the principal attorney for the party. This attorney is not actively involved in the day-to-day work of a law firm, but can be available for specific matters or consultation.

Offense: A violation of law or an act which contravenes the criminal law of the state in which it occurs. Crime, offense and criminal offense are often used interchangeably.

Offer: An offer is an explicit proposal to an agreement, which, if accepted, completes the agreement and ties both the person who made the offer and the person accepting the offer to the terms of the agreement.

Oligarchy: The term ‘oligarchy’ means “rule by a few”. It is a form of government in which a few persons (usually the rich) rule and govern for their own advantage, rather than the public good by assuming all legislative and administrative authority.

Ombudsman: It is an official appointed by the government or parliament to safeguard rights of citizens by receiving, investigating or addressing complaints against the government services or policies.

Omission: A failure to carry out or perform an act. According to the criminal law, if a person breaches his/her duty or does not take adequate action to prevent a foreseeable injury or harm, then such an act or failure constitutes an omission.

Omnibus Bill: A draft law before a legislature which comprises more than one substantive matter, or several minor matters which have been put together into one bill, apparently for the sake of convenience.

Omnibus Hearing: A criminal pretrial hearing soon after a defendant’s arraignment (the accused is brought before the court to formally read the complaint against him). The main objective of the hearing is to determine the admissibility of evidence which includes testimony and evidences seized at the time of arrest. These hearings are governed by the state laws and the local court rules, that vary by area.

Onus Probandi: A general rule in which the party who alleges the affirmative of any proposition has to produce proof for it, i.e. the party has to support their case by a particular fact of which they should be cognizant.

Open Verdict:
It is an option open to a Coroner’s jury at an Inquest in the legal system of England and Wales. The verdict implies that the jury confirms that the death is suspicious, but is unable to trace any of the other verdicts open to them, i.e. the jury affirms that a crime has been committed without stating by whom. Most cases of open verdict is related to suicides, where the intention of the dead person is difficult to prove.

Order of Filiation: An official document declaring a man to be the father of a child. Once the order is made, the father has an obligation to support the child and may have rights regarding the child’s custody or visitation.

Outcry Witness: The outcry witness is the person who first witnesses the child’s outcry regarding the child’s abuse, and is obligated to report the abuse to the concerned authorities.

Outlaw, Outlawry: Outlaw is an act of being put out of the protection of the law, by a process regularly sued out against a person who is in contempt in denying to become amenable to the court having jurisdiction. These proceedings are also known as the outlawry.

Overrule: It refers to a judge’s dissent with an attorney’s objection to a question to a witness or admission of evidence. Overrule may also refer to the appeals court overthrowing a previous ruling on a legal issue, so that the prior decision is no longer a valid precedent on that legal question.

Overt Act: It’s an action which might be innocent in itself, but if part of the preparation and active furtherance of a crime, can be considered as an evidence of a defendant’s involvement in a crime. However, the contemplation or intention to commit a crime is inadequate to convict the person of a criminal attempt, conspiracy or treason, a manifestation of such an intent by an overt act is sufficient.

Ownership: It’s the state or fact of exclusive legal rights or possession over property, which can be an object, land/real estate or intellectual property.


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