Legal Terms ( S )

Safe Harbor: Legally speaking, a safe harbor refers to that provision or clause in a statute that eliminates or lessens the liability of a party to the case under the law, considering the fact that the actions of the party were in good faith.

Generally, the word sanction means to approve or ratify, but in law, sanction can denote the penalty or punishment awarded to a person for breach of law.

Scienter: A Latin term which means, ‘guilty knowledge’. If a person does an act voluntarily and intentionally, fully knowing the consequences, he is said to have the guilty knowledge, which has to be proved in some crimes.

Scrivener: A scrivener is a person who drafts legal and other documents for others, usually for a fee. It can be a lawyer, if he does not give any legal advice, but simply drafts the document. It can be a non-lawyer too, who may land in trouble for practicing law without a license.

Scrivener’s Error: A term used to denote an error done by a clerical staff in a legal document. This term is mainly used to save higher officials from the blame of committing a mistake in a document, and putting the blame on the clerical staff.

Second Degree Murder: A murder, which is not pre-planned, but results from an assault, which is likely to cause death. Unlike a first degree murder which is pre-meditated and intentional or results from a crime, like arson, rape, robbery, etc., a second degree murder lacks premeditation, and is done with malice afterthought.

Sedition: The crime of revolting or supporting an uprising against the government. This crime involves speeches or publications, which may trigger public unrest and disrupts the operations of the government.

Self Defense: The right to protect one’s person, family members and property (in some cases) from injury, from the attacks of an aggressor is called self defense. It is a defense in some cases, where the person is not held responsible for an act which is carried out in self defense. 

Sentence: A punishment given to an accused person, who has been convicted of a crime.

Sequester: The process of separating the jury from outside influences by isolating them from any external contact, like the media, general public and even families. This is done to avoid anyone from influencing the verdict.

Sequestration: The act of taking away the property of a person from his possession under the process of law, for the benefits of a creditor or the state. A sequestration can be voluntary, if the person deposits the property by his own will, or it can be involuntary, if the authorities seize the property. Such an act is done when the ownership of the property in under dispute and a verdict is being awaited.

Servient Estate: A legal term used to denote a piece of real property, which is subject to any use that benefits another property is called a servient estate. For example, a property with a right of way imposed upon it, in order to benefit an adjoining property is called a servient estate, and the other one which uses the said property (for right of way) is called a dominant estate.

Severability: A legal term, which refers to a contract clause, which states that if some parts of a contract are held to be illegal and hence unenforceable, it does not mean that the rest of the contract is also unenforceable. In short, even if some parts are held unenforceable, the rest of the contract is still valid and binding.

Sobriety Test: A test to find out whether a person is in an intoxicated state or not. This test may involve the use of devices to check the level of blood alcohol or a breath test, or some test to check the motor skills which may be affected by intoxication.

Solatium: A compensation for emotional harm or for hurting feelings. This type of compensation, which is different from that which is awarded for financial or physical harm, is used in Scots law.

Sovereign Immunity: A legal doctrine, which shields the sovereign or the government from civil suits and criminal prosecution, and states that the sovereign cannot commit a legal wrong. This doctrine is used to protect the government servants too, if they were acting on behalf of the government.

Solvency: Unlike insolvency, wherein a person or entity is in unable to pay off the debts, solvency describes the status of a person or entity, who has enough assets to pay off the debts or liabilities.

Space Law: The body of law, which governs the space-related activities and includes international treaties, conventions, etc.

Specific Performance: Specific performance can be considered as an equitable remedy in case of breach of contracts, where monetary damages are deemed to be inadequate and compels the party to comply with the contractual obligation.

Station House Bail: It is a type of bail, which is granted to those who are accused of misdemeanors (lesser criminal acts), and are permitted to pay at the police station itself, facilitating their release prior to appearing before a judge.

Stare Decisis: A Latin term, which means, “to stand by things decided”. It is a legal doctrine, which states that the decision made by a court, in a particular case, on a certain set of facts, has to be followed and applied by lower courts or courts of same rank, in future cases with a similar set of facts. In simple terms, decided cases or precedents are binding on lower courts, while deciding cases with similar facts.

Status Quo: A legal term, which refers to the present state of affairs and a status quo order is issued by a judge, in order to prevent the actions of the parties to the case, until the case is resolved.

Statutory Rape: A legal term, which denotes a sexual intercourse by an adult person with a minor, who is below the age of consent or who is below the statutorily designated age.

Sweetheart Contract: A contract made as a result of collusion between the management and the labor representatives, at the expense of the rights of the union workers. Such contracts are made exclusively for the benefit of the management and not the workers.


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